Vandalizing, stealing election signs off private property is a crime: Watertown Police out with warning

Litchfield

WATERTOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — Watertown Police are trying to cut down on a problem that’s extending into people’s yards; political signs are being vandalized or stolen off of residents’ personal property ahead of the November election.

“It’s getting to be too much,” said Nancy Ryan, of Watertown.

She knows all about it because someone recently stole a “Biden/Harris” campaign sign from her daughter’s yard.

Police say regardless of anyone’s political persuasion, that is a crime and they’re trying to get the word out that it won’t be tolerated in town.

RELATED: Political lawn signs damaged, stolen in East Lyme ahead of November election

“Nobody has the right to walk onto somebody else’s property and vandalize,” said Detective Mark Conway.

Leaders with the Democratic Party in town tell News 8 they’ve gotten reports of as many as 30 Biden/Harris signs being stolen from yards or damaged.

“This is a very charged political environment between the president and Vice President Biden so people are very passionate about it,” said Jeff Desmarais, Chairman of the Democratic Town Committee, Watertown-Oakville. “It really should not, unfortunately though, lead to people vandalizing or stealing personal property.”

Local Republicans telling News 8 the problem isn’t only hitting Democrats. They say their Trump/Pence signs have been targeted, too.

“We’ve put out 40 to 50 Trump signs we’ve given out — especially in the Pondview area alone — a lot of them were taken,” said Erik Markiewicz, Republican Town Committee Chairman for Watertown-Oakville. “It’s been reported to the police department. They assured us they’re investigating it.”

Watertown Police have issued a warning on social media. They’ve made one arrest so far.

“There could be several charges — criminal mischief, trespassing,” Detective Conway said.

Both local party leaders agreeing in the freedom to support a candidate as passionately as you want — just as long as vandalism and theft are not involved.

“It’s disrespectful,” Markiewicz said. “It’s against the law.”

Police say it’s also a problem that popped up in the 2016 race between then-candidate Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“I wish we could come together and be more, I don’t know, cohesive…togetherness,” Nancy said.

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