Thefts are a sign of the times

Published 10:37 pm Monday, July 14, 2008

DEMOPOLIS — The political battle between Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson and challenger Mike Grayson has been respectful, nearly downright cordial.

But while the two principals maintain a healthy respect for one another, someone — probably more than one — is showing a little disdain for the candidates.

Williamson filed a police report late last week, claiming several of her signs have come up missing from her supporters’ yards.

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“At first I thought it was just kids in our neighborhood,” Williamson said. “But not when it turned out to be all over town.”

Williamson estimates she’s lost 25-27 signs because someone is taking them down as soon as she puts them up.

The signs cost $5.50 each, so the thefts have cost Williamson at least $148.50.

“I didn’t have that problem in 2004,” Williamson said.

But interim Police Chief Tim Williams said these types of thefts often happen during election season.

“Around election time, you see a lot of this happening,” Williams said. “It’s very difficult to stop.”

Grayson said he’s had the same problem, even though he has yet to file a police report with the city.

“I’ve probably lost that many or more,” Grayson said. “There are some places in the city where the signs go away as soon as they go up.”

Grayson said the disappearing campaign signs were a problem during his unsuccessful bid in 2004.

Both candidates said they couldn’t understand the reasoning for taking down a political sign posted on private property.

“I wouldn’t dream of doing that to somebody,” Williamson said.

Grayson agreed.

“If it’s in someone’s yard, like it’s supposed to be, I wouldn’t even think of it,” he said, “and I wouldn’t encourage anyone else to do it either.”

If a suspect is caught stealing a political sign, it can result in charges, Williams said.

“It can be a misdemeanor or more, depending on the circumstance,” he said.

Political signs are allowed on private property in the city, but are banned on public land and rights-of-way.