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HBPD warning: Political sign theft is a crime

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

Political campaign season can sometimes bring the old adage of “dirty politics” to the forefront of another old adage, “Win at all costs.”

Some voters may be familiar with terms such as “smear campaign,” “negative campaigns” and “political attack,” but sometimes the negative strategies of not only politicians, but supporters play out behind scenes.

Stealing political campaign signs is among the strategies and the mischief happens almost every election cycle when there is a contested race.

This year’s election, the Holmes Beach Police Department learned, after a Sept. 27 complaint was filed by commissioner candidate Carol Soustek, is no different.

Soustek reported two yard signs promoting her candidacy were stolen. The first was taken from the corner of 60th Street and Marina Drive and another was removed from Palm Drive and 77th Street.

In an attempt to discourage that kind of politics, Police Chief Bill Tokajer says citizens caught removing a sign from property that is not their own will be charged.

“If a citizen removes a sign from property that is not theirs, the citizen can be charged with theft and even trespassing for going another property,” said Tokajer. “I have instructed our officers to make contact with anyone they see involved in sign activity to make sure they have proper authorization to be removing signs.”

Tokajer said it is the responsibility of the police department and code enforcement to remove sings that are improperly displayed, and not the responsibility of citizens to take that role upon themselves.

Candidates must secure permission from property owners to place signs, and no signs are allowed in rights of way or on city property.

Anyone wishes to dispute the a location of a political sign can contact the HBPD at 941-708-5804.

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