ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — Political sign thefts are becoming a common thing as we get deeper into the 2020 election cycle.
People who steal signs and trespass on property risk getting charged with a petty misdemeanor. Many of these culprits are teens or young adults.
“The idea that people or kids look at it as a prank that it’s something that is a joke, and ‘we’re just playing around.’ On the other hand its not, its a theft. Your trespassing, going on somebody’s property with the intent to take something away from them. It’s a criminal act and its not appropriate to do that,” said Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson.
Rochester resident Austin Klinesteker had his Trump sign stolen from his property. “Bought my Trump sign for 20 bucks. I put it out Saturday afternoon, it lasted Saturday, Sunday, Monday. On Tuesday afternoon my wife came to pick me up roughly at 8 or 9 o’clock and it was gone, just missing.”
He didn’t contact law enforcement about the incident, but was frustrated that it happened to him.
“Just upset a little bit. You know, I just kind of thought it was dumb that somebody would let the sign bother them enough to take it,” Klinesteker said.
Joe and Heather Hockert had the same experience, but it was their Biden sign that was stolen.
“It just felt like we were you know, attacked,” Heather said.
The couple reported the theft to law enforcement.
“It’s unfortunate because we are all one America. And we should stand as one America and voting is a great right and let everybody back who they want to but not infringe on others by stealing property,” Joe said.
Torgersen said sometimes county or city officials will remove yard signs if they are too close to a right of way, boulevard, or county road. He said if that happens, people can contact their County office or City Hall to retrieve the removed sign.
“Tips would be, keep it away from the road, number one. Two, keep it closer to your house. Keep it where it’s in a lighted area, possible, at night. So if you have a front light that can be on at night or something like that. Put it in the window of your house that’s another option,” Torgerson said.
The window options is exactly what Klinesteker did once he replaced his missing sign. “I got a few new signs. I just put them up in the window so no one can steal them. Hopefully, nothing happens to my house.”
The Hockerts are increasing security measures for their new sign. “We do plan to replace it. There is a camera being installed, just for you know, piece of mind,” Joe said.
Although Klinesteker and the Hockerts support different candidates they both agree stealing of either sign is wrong, and that it is okay to have different viewpoints.