Political sign snagging in North Port

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Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 5:21 pm | Updated: 9:52 am, Thu Oct 11, 2012.

NORTH PORT - Dozens of political signs are coming up missing, damaged, or defaced in the North Port area. Some signs supporting the candidates for President are even being replaced with the challenger. Both local parties say the acts should stop.

North Port resident Tony Boubin says someone keeps taking his Obama/Biden campaign signs from his front yard. "I have to take them down every night because they will get stolen."

This past weekend he left one out..His surveillance camera caught someone taking it. "I have to laugh. It is just like little children. This is child's play this is not behaving like an adult."

The video even shows the man coming up on bike holding a neighbors sign he had already taken. Al Kennedy has also had multiple signs stolen. "If they are going to come up to my house and be that bold enough to come up to my doorstep there is no telling what they might do."

The North Port Democratic Club says upwards of 40 signs they put around town last week are already gone. Saying not only where they taken but they got Romney/Ryan replacements. "It seems organized when you consider the Obama signs are removed and Romney signs are placed in their place."

Some others covered with stickers for a website. Signs for Democratic candidate for Congress Keith Fitzgerald were also damaged. "Basically just ripped off the stands and crumbled up and thrown on the side of the road or simply ripped off the wooden frames."

It is certainly not just one sided. You may remember the large Repeal Obama billboard in South Venice damaged back in August. "I was shocked and extremely disappointed." Sarasota County GOP Chairman Joe Gruters says they too receive daily notices of their candidates signs going missing or damaged. "The great thing about living in America is we have the freedom to express who we think should be our next President and when somebody takes that away from us it certainly is a little disturbing."

Both local Democratic and Republican leaders are condemning the actions saying it's a freedom of speech issue.

For Tony he's already added more signs. An additional one for each one taken. "It is not going to change my mind by taking the sign down. Actually it makes me stronger."

It is also a private property issue. Anyone caught stealing or damaging a political sign can be charged with theft and possession of stolen property. North Port Police are investigating the video.

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