Political signs popping up, disappearing in Franklin Co.

September 15, 2004|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Almost as fast as they have been going up in Franklin County, signs supporting President Bush's re-election have been disappearing, according to Bob Thomas.

"Mine, for example," said Thomas, chairman of the county's Bush-Cheney '04 Committee. "If someone's going to do it in front of my house, they've got nerve," said Thomas, who lives across the street from two police officers.

Thomas said scores of signs have been stolen in recent days, including the one taken from his front yard on Sept. 4. All the signs, he said, have been taken from private property.


"We have a policy of no signs in public right of ways," Thomas said Tuesday.

"There are some unscrupulous people out there," Thomas said. The yard signs, he said, "are a right of public expression on private property."

The committee initially received 750 signs, then ordered and paid for 500 more because of the demand in the county, Thomas said. Republicans have a 2-1 edge over Democrats in the county, according to the Franklin County Voter Registration Office.

While those signs can be picked up free by residents, Thomas said some of the victims had paid $5.95 plus shipping for signs they ordered from the Bush campaign's Web site.

"To my knowledge, I don't know of any signs disappearing," said Don Richards, chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Committee. "We haven't put too many out yet," he said of signs for the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards.

At the county Republican Headquarters, volunteer Jane Yancoskie said "quite a few" people have come in to get replacement signs, but she did not have a specific number.

Mike Tresler of 85 East Ave., State Line, Pa., said his sign was stolen Saturday night or Sunday. He said a number of other people in his neighborhood had signs taken.

"If you've got a Mao Tse-tung for President sign, that's your right ... Just don't come in my yard and steal my property," Tresler said Tuesday. He said he reported the theft to Pennsylvania State Police.

"The state trooper told me they were inundated," Tresler said.

"I can't even give you a number," Trooper Jeff Sarver said Tuesday, referring to the stolen sign reports he has been getting. Sarver said many of the reports he looked into were in the Marion, Pa., and State Line areas.

"Who has the time to go around and steal that many signs?" Sarver said.

Tresler said he has another Bush-Cheney sign in his yard and a few more in reserve.

"If they steal one a week, I should be OK till the election," he said.

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