Candidate posters being stolen from yards

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 16, 2003

Charmaine Lofton said she doesn’t always put campaign signs inher yard on Zetus Road. Any signs that she does put up, though, shewould like to stay in place.

That didn’t happen recently after she put up “Terry Brister forSuperintendent of Education” signs. She put two up, on separateoccasions, and both were stolen.

“It’s been going on a while. Every time we put up a sign, it’staken,” said Lofton.

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Lofton’s home, apparently, was not alone. About two weeks ago,she said a friend found approximately 20 to 30 signs, allsupporting Brister, scattered along the bank near a bridge onJackson-Liberty Road.

Lofton speculated that the sign thieves could be children whowere mad at Brister, who is principal at Loyd Star AttendanceCenter.

“It may be kids from around here,” she said. “Somebody may havegotten in trouble this year.”

Brister isn’t the only candidate to be targeted. His opponent,Donald Case, said he has heard of his campaign signs being removedfrom yards for two weeks in a row.

“It may just be going around now,” Case said about the rash ofsign thefts.

Removing signs from yards is a misdemeanor crime, said LincolnCounty Sheriff Lynn Boyte.

“This is something that shouldn’t happen, but it does,” Boytesaid.

Boyte admitted, though, that catching and prosecuting theculprits could be difficult.

“I think it would be very limited that we could prove,” Boytesaid.

Boyte mentioned that high winds from recent storms blew numeroussigns down across the county.

“It left few standing,” Boyte said.

In the city, Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said he hashad no formal complaints of signs being taken from yards. However,he did say he had heard several people, including some candidatesin various races, talking about lost signs.

“It’s all in the county that they were talking about,” Hendersonsaid.

State and local laws prohibit campaign signs from being placedon road rights of way. Henderson warned candidates to not put theirsigns on city street rights of way.

“If they do, they’re going to lose them,” Henderson said.

For those putting out signs, Henderson said they could prettymuch use utility poles as the dividing line between city propertyand private property. Signs should be placed beyond the poles onprivate property with the owner’s permission.

After her two signs were stolen two weeks ago, Lofton has sinceput up a third sign and it has stayed in place. Regardless of whatcandidate a sign is promoting, she said having them taken fromprivate property is a “nuisance” that should not happen.

“It’s on my property, leave it alone,” Lofton said.