Political yard signs stolen, defaced

Several area residents have reported that their campaign yard signs have been stolen or defaced, according to authorities with local sheriffs’ offices.

Cpt. Donnie Lang, of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, said for the past three to four weeks signs have been stolen, spray painted over or slashed.

“What we’re seeing is that Donald Trump signs make up most of them,” Lang said of the signs. “Some are stolen, but a majority of them are defaced.”

Lang said the department has received five direct reports of sign damage, but a local political volunteer has reported roughly 30 members of his organization have requested replacements.

David Sparkman is the lead volunteer with Frederick County’s Trump campaign. He guessed as many as 50 signs have been damaged, and said the crimes are a disappointment for passionate citizens.

“Some people are very enthusiastic, they put signs out on their property, they put them out for their neighbors with permission, they’re very excited, but come back in the morning and find out they’re gone,” Sparkman said.

The Winchester-Frederick County Democratic Committee could not be reached for comment.

The issue spans beyond Frederick County. In Warren County, Deputy Chris Anderson said he’s heard of several issues of campaign sign thievery and vandalism.

Likewise, Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron said his office has encountered several instances of the sign theft and vandalism – from both sides of the aisle.

“It’s that time of year,” he said. “We get all kinds of political yard sign larcenies and vandalisms all the time, on both sides of the political spectrum.”

He said thus far, no one has been charged with any crimes related to the matter.

On the other side, Capt. Wes Dellinger, of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, said his organization has not received any reports of the larceny or vandalism of political yard signs.

While the crimes may sound insignificant, Lang said their perpetrators can face serious repercussions. Both petty larceny and vandalism fall under Virginia code as Class 1 misdemeanors, leading to a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail on top of a $2,500 fine.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com.