“People may not realize is that stealing a campaign sign, or tampering with a sign, is a crime,” said Luther Police Chief Marcus Thurman.
He contacted The Luther Register Sunday after two incumbent candidates for Town Board complained they were losing signs. Chief Thurman said that Carolyn Lawson has lost about ten signs and Andy McDaniels has lost about three signs.
“The offender may be charged with theft, damage to property and trespassing. We do not typically take police reports for each sign that is missing. However, if you are caught stealing or damaging a sign, we will charge you,” said Chief Thurman.
It is difficult to find statutes governing campaign sign theft in Oklahoma. But a Luther ordinance about a misdemeanor petit larceny seems to apply.
There are not many case histories to be found in Oklahoma on campaign sign theft, but there’s a couple of stories out of the Tulsa area. One involved the 2012 arrest of a man who was caught red-handed with signs that had a tracking device attached to it. However, according to OSCN records, the man was never charged. In another case, an 85-year-old Creek County man was arrested for stealing signs but put them back once he found out it was a crime.
A day before the elections for Luther Town Board and Oklahoma County Sheriff, just about every corner in town has political signs from many candidates. Turns out that you can obviously put a sign on private property with permission, but signs are not supposed to be on state or federal highways, such as the corner of Highway 66 and Luther Road. The signs are there anyway!
Here is the state statute on the matter.
According to 69 O.S. 1208, political signs in Oklahoma may not be placed in the public right-of-way along a state or federal highway. Signs that are displayed in unauthorized areas are considered a public nuisance and may be removed. Oklahoma also has specific election-day sign placement restrictions. O.S. §26-7-108 limits sign display in the following manner:
“No printed material other than that provided by the election board shall be publicly placed or exposed within three hundred (300) feet of any ballot box, while an election is in progress.”Candidates should make supporters aware of sign placement rules in order to avoid having signs confiscated.
The candidates said each of the signs cost between $7 – $10.