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TEMPERANCE — The Bedford Township hall has been a busier place than usual, and not for a good reason.
Supervisor Walt Wilburn reports that residents have been turning in hundreds of stolen political yard signs that were discarded on their properties.
The sign thefts do not appear to be aimed at a particular candidate, party, or issue, he said, but they are a significant nuisance and expense.
"We call the candidates and tell them they can come by and pick up their signs," Mr. Wilburn said. "We haven't caught anyone yet, but we want to tell the people who are doing this that if you're caught, you'll be prosecuted."
Yard signs are plentiful in Bedford Township as the Aug. 7 primary election approaches. The seats up for election in the township alone are the supervisor, clerk, treasurer, all four trustees, and all five members of the park board. Fire, law enforcement, and bus-service millage requests also are on the ballot, along with many countywide issues and races.
Mr. Wilburn, a second-term Republican, is locked in a primary contest with Greg Stewart, a Lambertville resident who is the Luna Pier administrator.
Tom Redmond, who is running to be the Democratic candidate for Monroe County sheriff, said he filed a police report Tuesday about his campaign's stolen and damaged signs.
Mr. Redmond, a Lambertville resident and retired sheriff's deputy, said about 300 of his campaign signs have been stolen in Bedford Township, and he has lost about 800 across Monroe County.
"I've had signs stolen from my own front yard," he said, adding that he believes the thefts were not politically motivated. "It's 99 percent kids, and some of the signs we have recovered," he said.
On Tuesday, he received a call that about "50 to 60 signs," including his, had been found dumped on Section Road. "The signs included the fire and police levies and a ‘For Sale' sign. I don't think there was any political intent."
Lost signs can be a significant expense to a campaign, said Mr. Redmond, who put his losses at "well over" $4,000. He is a part-time police officer in Dundee and Erie Township, and has seen sign thefts in those communities as well. To the best of his knowledge, nobody has been arrested in Monroe County for sign theft.
Sheriff's officials could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Redmond said his larger yard signs are $4.25 apiece, but "my bigger signs, with fence posts, are $15. They [the thieves] don't know how expensive it is for the candidates."
He said that in Michigan, anyone caught with more than $200 worth of stolen signs could be charged with a high-level misdemeanor; if the signs are worth $1,000 or more, the charge could be a felony.
Contact Carl Ryan at: email@example.com or 419-724-6095.