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Sheriff's warning: It's a crime to steal signs

Thieves stole Trump sign from a yard on Kanuga Road. Thieves stole Trump sign from a yard on Kanuga Road.

Grady Hawkins, Henderson County commissioner and Trump supporter, was impressed at the determination of sign thieves who took a 4x6-foot Trump sign from a yard on Kanuga Road.


“The frame was made out of 2x4s, and then they were stapled in,” he said of the sign near his Sugar Hollow neighborhood. “I don’t know if they were unscrewed or they just tore it out of the frame. The rails were put in with 2½-inch woodscrews.”
With a week to go before the Nov. 8 election, Hawkins said it appears passions are running high and sign theft is on the rise.
“It would appear that way,” he said. “I know that in addition to taking that large sign they took a couple of the smaller signs also. It’s just kind of unfortunate that some folks decide they’ll do that. It has mostly a negative effect because it kind of distracts from the idea of a free election. … Hopefully, the 8th of November will finally get here and may we’ll get done with this thing.”
Maj. Frank Stout of the Henderson County sheriff’s office said he decided to issue “friendly reminder” that sign-stealing is a misdemeanor that could win the thief 20 days in jail and a $200 fine.
“I honestly got a call over the weekend from people on both sides, one from Democrats and one from Republicans, they were concerned about signs being stolen,” Stoute said. “We’ve not had quite as many reports as we have had in times past. But it’s a friendly reminder that it is against the law. Just be respectful of people that put out the signs and spend the money.”

He did not have a count of how many sign theft and vandalism calls the department had received this election cycle.
Under North Carolina law, it’s a class 3 misdemeanor to steal, deface, vandalize or unlawfully remove a political sign that is lawfully posted. Conviction on the charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 days in jail and a $200 fine.
Oher regulations under state law:
• No sign shall be permitted in the right-of-way of a fully controlled access highway.
• No sign shall be closer than three feet from the edge of the pavement of the road.
• No sign shall obscure motorist visibility at an intersection.
• No sign shall be higher than 42 inches above the edge of the pavement of the road.
• No sign shall be larger than 864 square inches. 6x12 feet is 864 square inches.
• No sign shall obscure or replace another sign.
Stout said he knew of no case when deputies had made an arrest for stealing or destroying signs.
“I’ve heard some instances where they caught ‘em on game cameras doing that but as far as being able to catch somebody or to prosecute I can’t recall anything during my time,” he said.