Rich Harris placed a Joe Biden campaign sign on his property in Bridgewater around 6 p.m. one evening and by the following morning, the Democratic presidential nominee’s placard was gone.
A police report was filed, but the sign was never found.
Harris said he has since replaced the campaign sign on his property, but has noticed more signs have gone missing in the past week.
“It’s illegal,” he said.
Reports of stolen campaign signs have been circling around the Rockingham County area and they are not just limited to Biden signs as campaign signs for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have been stolen as well.
Gloria Ollice, also from Bridgewater, said she discovered her Trump campaign sign stolen on Aug. 19 and another one more recently.
“A neighbor’s sign was stolen, another neighbor’s sign was stolen, I replaced my sign and that was stolen,” she said. “They stole the little sign and the big sign.”
Ollice said near her house there were more signs stolen and added that the stealing of signs was “all political.”
“It just shocked me,” she said.
Ollice said her neighbor had filed a police report when the sign was stolen, but the signs were never found.
Alex Wilmer, assistant town manager of Bridgewater, said the town has received a couple of calls in relation to stolen campaign signs, adding that Chief Joe Simmons mentioned during a lunch meeting last week the police department had received reports about the signs.
After speaking with Simmons Monday, Wilmer said in the last month five to six campaign signs have been reported stolen, an even number of Trump and Biden signs.
“Chief Simmons said this didn’t seem too unusual compared to previous years,” Wilmer said.
Wilmer agreed that stealing campaign signs is a trend that tends to happen during election years and said he didn’t think it was anything bigger than that. However, Harris called it a “direct assault on our First Amendment rights of free speech.”
Harris also said he wanted to see the Rockingham County Democratic Committee and Rockingham County Republican Committee release a joint statement condemning the theft of campaign signs, but a statement has not been released as of Monday.
Colum Leckey, chairman of the county’s Democratic Committee, said he spoke with the county’s Republican Committee chairman, Daryl Borgquist, two weeks ago regarding the stolen campaign signs and releasing a joint statement. Borgquist confirmed he did speak with Leckey, but said he “didn’t see the point” in releasing a statement.
“There have been signs stolen in every jurisdiction in the county,” Borgquist said. “I hear it daily.”
Reports of stolen Trump and Pence signs have been coming in since May, said Borgquist, who said once the signs were placed outside, they were stolen immediately.
He guessed that nearly 100 signs have been stolen since May.
“People are screwing signs on top of their house,” he said.
Leckey said he receives several calls a week of signs being reported as stolen, mostly in the Bridgewater area, and the calls have been coming in since July.
“It’s enough to be a problem,” he said. “It has to stop.”