Political candidates say sign vandalism, theft not uncommon

Posted at 8:48 PM, Oct 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-30 13:45:52-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah - Vandalism is something political candidates are forced to deal with during the campaign process. As the general election moves closer, those running in southern Utah are reporting more cases.

St. George Police Department officials said they’ve received a few calls about stolen signs and minor vandalism. Sgt. Sam Despain said it doesn’t appear to be any more than in previous years, but it’s still concerning.

“It falls under theft code and criminal mischief," Despain said. "It’s something we take serious. That’s somebody else’s property. They put it up for a reason and people don’t have the right to steal, move or destroy that.”

Democratic candidate Dorothy Engelman seems to have been hit the worst. Her sign along Dixie Drive was spray painted with “anti gun” over the weekend. She said that while it’s likely politically motivated, it hard not to take it personal.

“Initially it felt like a slap in the face,” Engelman said. “There’s a little part of me that said, it wasn’t if, it was when. But I didn’t know it would be so blatant…”

City ordinance does allow candidates to put signs on the side of the road to advertise their campaign. Those candidates say, unfortunately, they come to expect that kind of behavior.

“It’s just not the fair thing to do,” said Democratic County Commissioner candidate Paul Van Dam.

One of his large signs was dismantled and placed behind an electric box near 1450 South in St. George.

“As long as these signs comply with what the different cities and counties regulations say they should. They’re legal.”

Engelman’s opponent, Republican Lowry Snow, said he’s seen a few lawn signs disappear, but nothing too serious. Officers are investigating the incidents, and say anyone who witnesses theft or vandalism is urged to contact police.