- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Supporters of presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama, a Democrat, and Sen. John McCain, a Republican, have taken the fight to the signs in the final days of the campaign, as an estimated thousands of yard signs have been stolen or defaced across Maryland and Virginia.

“People are so hyped up by this election,” said Mykel Harris, chairman of the Republican Central Committee for Prince George’s County. “Some folks who see this as their candidate being the chosen one and anything that stands against that is evil.”

Yard signs are routinely stolen and trashed during any campaign, but attacks have become increasingly personal during this campaign, said Mr. Harris, who recently circulated photos of a friend’s house that had been spray-painted with “Barack” and “Vote Barack” earlier this month.

Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of yard signs have been stolen - from the homes of “Joe the Plumber” types to the mansions of celebrities.

1970s rocker Peter Frampton set up a hidden video camera at his home in Cincinnati to find out who’s been stealing his Obama signs.

At least one candidate for local office hopes a thief attempts to steal his signs.

Jim Gibson, a Republican running for City Council in Oceanside, Calif., coated his signs with clear, industrial glue last week, in the hopes of sticking it to thieves.

One sign thief - an Obama supporter and political science professor at St. Olaf College, in Minnesota - admitted his guilt on the liberal blog Huffington Post last week.

“It seems to be growing out of a militant intolerance,” Mr. Harris said Monday.

Most politicos accept that some signs will “grow legs and walk off.” So campaigns are simply printing more.

“We have people who come back more than once,” said David Paulson, a Maryland Democratic Party spokesman. “We’ve also asked them to report it to the police.”

The number of Democratic activists requesting extra yard signs has greatly increased this year, he said.

Prince George’s County police Monday reported no significant increase in reports of political pilfering this year.

“You know what’s going on,” Mr. Harris said. “Most people sort of accept the fact that police have other things to do.”

But Mr. Harris’ Republican counterpart in Arlington had trouble this weekend accepting things when a man swiped two McCain/Palin signs he had posted.

Arlington Republican Party Chairman Wayne Kubicki called police after he watched a man Saturday walk out to the median strip of North Williamsburg Boulevard, grab the signs, then throw them in the trash, Arlington police said.

“I’m disappointed but not surprised,” Mr. Kubicki said Sunday.

Mr. Kubicki requested the man be charged with theft, but police say they were unable to charge him because he replaced the signs.

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