Created on Monday, 29 October 2012 Written by THE BELLEFONTAINE EXAMINER STAFF
Editor’s Note: Recent reports of tampering with campaign signs and vulgar graffiti marring private property in our community have prompted us to reproduce the following editorial, which first appeared in the Oct. 24, 1987, edition of the Examiner. The legal penalties and fines detailed below may be dated and are likely to be more severe now than when the item was first published.
An ugly problem has reared its ugly head again.
And, if some reports are true it is more pernicious than ever before.
The problem is tampering with campaign signs.
Halloween-type tomfoolery might increase the problem, but there is some evidence that the signs have been tampered with in a willful manner in an attempt to injure candidates.
What the trickster does not realize is that what he might consider a prank could result in some fairly serious legal charges.
Most all signs are placed on private property with the express permission of the property owner.
Entering on the property for the purpose of removing the signs constitutes trespassing. While trespassing is only a fourth-degree misdemeanor, it does carry a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and or $250 — quite a stiff penalty for a prank.
And, we’re not done yet. If one were to take the purloined sign and whap it to a pulp in the street, the perpetrator could also be guilty of destruction of property, which could carry a similar penalty.
The prankster could also incur civil liability for any damage, including something as trivial as a bent blade of grass, he caused when he was on the property.
And, if you are intent on replacing one candidate’s sign with his opponent’s, as has been reported, you are entering a ballgame with some extremely severe penalties.
The gaming field is not the only place for good sportsmanship. It should also extend to the campaign trail.
And, respect for private property should be universal.