Election season doesn’t always bring out the best in people.
Local resident John Nixon called the Gabber office last week to report political signs stolen in his neighborhood, his house included.
“I got wiped out,” said Nixon. “So did my neighbors to the left and to the right.”
Nixon noticed his signs were missing when he woke up around 4 a.m. earlier this month.
“Maybe it was some bar-goers that got a little drunk and took off with them,” said Nixon. “Maybe they’re in someone else’s yard. Who knows?”
Even if it was a spontaneous, inebriated act, the Gulfport Police Department told the Gabber that theft of a political sign is indeed a chargeable criminal offense.
“Theft of a sign has the same elements as theft of any property,” said GPD Public Information Officer Thomas Woodman. “Anything under $750 is petit theft and is punishable.”
According to Chapter 22 of the Gulfport’s City’s Charter, political signs are allowed as follows:
“Political signs shall be confined within private property, and shall be removed within seven (7) days after the election to which they pertain. The property on which the same are located shall remove all political signs. No more than one (1) political sign per ballot issue, candidate, and position shall be allowed on any property.”
Petit theft is a misdemeanor, but penalties may include jail time, probation, community service and restitution.
Code Enforcement Officer Mark Ottervanger said that he doesn’t personally remove signs in most scenarios, but will issue a notice of violation if signs are placed on public right-of-ways.
Ottervanger told the Gabber he only removes signs if they’re clearly on city property, like in front of City Hall.
“Very simply put, we ask that individuals keep their political signs on private property off of the public right-of-way,” affirmed City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
Information about criminal activity should be reported to local law enforcement.