As the 2018 election approaches, mayoral and city council candidates have reported local election signs disappearing across Hillsdale County.
Mayoral candidate Adam Stockford has lost 20 signs. Additionally, mayoral candidate Scott Sessions has lost four signs.
Stolen signs is a regular occurrence during elections, and the police don’t actively pursue cases unless the homeowner catches the thief, Hillsdale Police Chief Scott Hephner said.
“Almost every election when candidates put signs out in the yard, signs go missing,” Hephner said. “Some of it is just theft; some people might have repurposed the signs. It’s not usually a huge deal. If we come across someone with a sign, we usually just make sure we make them put it back.”
Sometimes homeowners move signs too close to the curb when mowing their lawns, but the city usually calls to warn the candidate before moving the signs. The mayoral candidates and the police are unable to verify who is taking the signs, but they said they suspect it could be pranks by local students.
“So far, every election I’ve been in signs go missing,” Sessions said. “Sometimes kids take them. I don’t know who else would take them. If they are kids, I think they would be doing it for a prank. I can’t think of any other reason, and I know sometimes they take street signs.”
Sessions put out 60 signs for the race, each of which cost $6. Only four went missing, and Sessions said he was not concerned that the missing signs would impact the race.
Stockford campaigned with 120 signs, but he lost far more to the thefts, which cost him almost $200 worth in stolen signs.
“The frustrating part is having to replace them. And the signs aren’t cheap,” Stockford said. “The thing to remember if you decide you want to steal signs is that if you are doing it to harm the candidate, most of the time the signs come from donations of people right here in the community of Hillsdale — teachers and firefighters, housewives, engineers, janitors.They are people trying to participate in the political process in some way through small contributions, and that’s what is used to make the purchases. I guess it is counterproductive.”