Arrests expected today in thefts of political signs

August 16, 2006|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

Harford County sheriff's deputies said they expect to arrest eight people today on charges of stealing as many as 300 political campaign signs from lawns and roadways and dumping them into a community pond near Bel Air, a spokesman said.

The signs - representing a wide array of candidates - are believed to have been taken overnight as thieves made their way around Bel Air and Churchville, said Robert B. Thomas, a spokesman for the sheriff's office.

"They did not discriminate between Democrats and Republicans," Thomas said.

Just before 7 a.m., authorities were notified that many of the signs were floating in a Fountain Green neighborhood pond, he said. Some had become caught in the fountain's pump motor and caused the fountain to shut down, Thomas said.

Eight suspects - one a juvenile, the others ages 18 to 20 - were identified in an investigation, and deputies applied for arrest warrants on charges of theft over $500 and malicious destruction of property, Thomas said.

Candidates say sign-stealing is nothing new.

Norman R. Cochran, Republican candidate for sheriff, said he was preparing to place an ad in a local newspaper decrying the vandalism of signs. "We didn't know if they were other candidates' people or what, and we just were going to ask them to keep the campaign clean," he said.

Democrat Jesse Bane, also running for sheriff, said many of his signs were gone and he and campaign volunteers were trying to determine where the thefts occurred.

"It's not the end of the world," he said. "If signs voted, then I guess there'd be more to worry about."

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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