Political signs becoming targets for vandals

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Election Tuesday is just a few weeks away, and as the campaigns continue to heat up, the political hostility is spilling over right into some people's front yards.

Police say it happens every election season, reports of campaign signs stolen from front yards, or bumper stickers vandalized on cars.

KKCO 11 News was told by members of Republican and Democratic groups in town that both parties have seen their signs torn down this year.

You may think it's a harmless part of the political game, but police say if you mess with the signs, you're committing a crime.

"I had some banners and signs supporting Obama and the local candidates for office," Grand Junction resident Joseph Marie said. "I heard a rumble in my yard about three o'clock in the morning, and I saw what appeared to be some college age kids running down the street with my signs."

Police said what happened to Marie isn't unusual but that destroying the signs is against the law.

"Every campaign season we'll get a handful of calls from people saying someone tampered with their signs, or vandalized their signs, and a lot of times we aren't able to figure out who did it," Grand Junction Police Department spokesperson Kate Porras said. "A campaign sign is a person's property, so you're not allowed to deface it or tamper it. You can face charges such as criminal tampering, possibly, or criminal mischief, maybe even vandalism."

Grand Junction resident Keith Lowell and his son put out Mitt Romney campaign signs for the first time this year, and even though Lowell said he's heard of the vandalism, it doesn't scare him; if his signs are stolen, he'll bring them right back.

"The ability to have that in your front yard is a matter of the freedoms that we enjoy in this country, and certainly it gives all of us an opportunity to express our views, whether we agree with one another or not,” he said. "Those are the kinds of things that certainly are not going to deter me from voting, deter me from expressing my views, and certainly not going to deter me from putting another sign in my front yard."

Police said they've also had calls of people putting political messages under the windshield wipers of cars, but that isn't a crime; it's expressing freedom of speech, but if it happened repeatedly to the same person by the same person, then it could become a harassment issue.

If you plan on putting a flier on someone's windshield and the car is parked at a business, you also need to check with the business owner before doing that on their property.

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