Last week, a Highland Park resident was driving his children home from school when he saw a woman knock down two political yard signs on the front yard of a Sheridan Road home.
"Dad, can she do that?" one of his kids asked.
The answer is no, she can't. But she did, and, during this heated election season, she's not the only one.
Highland Park residents reported seven stolen political yard signs in the last week, according to this week's police report.
"It upsets me that somebody thinks rather than pulling the lever in the voting booth it's better to pull down the sign they don't like," said Stuart Cohen, the resident who had his Mitt Romney and Robert Dold signs pulled down last week. "It's not like I was promoting some wild, racist party… just one of our major political candidates."
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Cohen put the signs back up after the incident occurred. Residents like Betsy Brint, however, have not had that luxury. She's replaced eight Barack Obama signs since the campaign began.
"[The Obama campaign] loves me because I keep ordering more and more," she said.
Brint wrote a column for Patch as an open letter to her yard sign vandal. In one instance, the yard sign wasn't just stolen -- someone shredded it and left the remains on her lawn. In another instance, someone replaced an Obama magnet on her car with one supporting Romney.
"I think it's political bullying," Brint said.
Not easily recovered
The police investigate sign thefts as though they were any other theft, according to Deputy Police Chief Dave Schwarz.
However, it's pretty easy to snag a sign from a front yard without getting caught.
"Unless we have somebody who saw something, it can be difficult to locate the offender," Schwarz said.
Once the signs are taken, Schwarz said they're rarely recovered. Additional patrols are dispatched to areas experiencing thefts, and residents who have been targeted are encouraged to set up a video camera to monitor their yard at night.
Schwarz pointed out the amount of yard signs reported stolen make up only a small portion of the total number of yard signs throughout Highland Park.
"We have hundreds of these signs in town, so overall the occurrence is pretty minute," Schwarz said.
It's the economy, thief!
Though Brint and Cohen disagree about who they're supporting, they've drawn the same conclusion about why this election has inspired yard sign thefts: the hurting economy.
Brint wonders if people feel more vulnerable this election because of the recession. Cohen feels similarly.
But the fact that people would go through the effort to steal their yard signs seems to be inspiring both residents to make sure they keep replacing them.
"It enters into a political conversation without any words being said," Brint said about what yard signs accomplish. And the yard sign thefts, she continues, "makes it even more important to say what I believe."
Have you had your political yard sign stolen or vandalized? Leave a comment below.