Between 9 p.m. Sept. 7 and 7 a.m. Sept. 8, someone stole a sign from the area of Egypt Hollow and Priest Hollow Roads, according to Warren-based Pennsylvania State Police.
(Photo by Brian Hagberg. Political yard signs such as these Biden and Trump signs on Conewango Ave in Warren have become a target for theft and vandalism of late.)
The sign itself is only worth $5, but it’s part of something much bigger. This particular sign was a political yard sign supporting President Donald Trump, and it’s just one of a large number of signs across the region that have been stolen or vandalized.
“We have heard concerns of local individuals complaining about political yard signs being stolen,” Secretary for the Warren County Republican Committee Joe McClellan said. “We have also seen online photographic evidence of large local signs for President Trump being damaged and signs supporting Vice President Biden being vandalized.”
Aaron Stearns, Chairman of the Warren County Democratic Party, said he’s personally had to replace more than 50 Joe Biden signs so far.
“The small signs have been replaced,” he said. “The large signs have been cleaned (and) rehabbed.”
Stearns recently helped a homeowner clean a large Biden sign that had a large, “[email protected]$& u” spray painted on it.
“The Warren County Republicans condemn these types of behaviors in the strongest way,” McClellan said.
One of the major, contributing factors to this behavior, Stearns said, is the increasing vitriol on both sides.
“The discourse is off the rails, on both sides,” he said. “We’re not immune. A lot of it is designed to dishearten people and get them to not vote. I think it will get worse the closer we get to election day.”
Sign theft and vandalism seems to be a rural issue more than an urban one, according to Stearns.
“I’m on several sites geared towards rural Dems and it’s pretty pervasive through all of those,” Stearns said. “People in large areas tend to leave each other alone. Plus, there aren’t as many yards so signs aren’t out.”
Though there can be a strong desire to retaliate, both McClellan and Stearns urged people to refrain from such acts.
“We want everyone to remember we are all Americans working toward building a better future and treat others with respect and dignity regardless of political policy preferences,” McClellan said.
“Don’t engage, don’t do things like that,” Stearns added. “I hate property damage, it’s ridiculous. We need to be level-headed and inclusive.”
Don’t be discouraged, Stearns said, if your sign is the next victim.
“The good thing is, we have thousands of signs,” he said. “We’ll just keep handing them out.”