Local Democrats issue warning to vandals - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local Democrats issue warning to vandals

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Photo by WRCB Anchor Callie Starnes Photo by WRCB Anchor Callie Starnes

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Remove or destroy a campaign sign and you'll face charges.

It's a warning from Hamilton County Democrats, who say vandals have cost them thousands of dollars this election season.  

The latest target: an Alton Park barber shop.

Its owner returned to work Monday morning to find dozens of signs destroyed.

Larry High has owned Bear's Barber Shop in Alton Park for 42 years.

This time of year, his shop is a campaigning hot spot.

"I've always had that part of the lot open for anyone, Democrat or Republican, whoever wanted to put a sign out there was always welcome," says High.

Larry returned to work Monday morning to find about two dozen signs destroyed.

"They weren't just knocked down, they were destroyed," he says. "So whoever did this, it was not an accident, it was intentionally done."

It's the third time in a week signs have been removed or vandalized.

Monday, a man was arrested for removing signs supporting the Obama/Biden campaign from the Highway 58 area.

Over the weekend, vandals destroyed dozens of signs in front of the Bethlehem Community Center.

"I would say this is one of the dirtiest elections I've ever seen," says Paul Smith.

Paul Smith, with the Hamilton County Democratic Party, says vandals have destroyed or stolen about $5,000 in signs this election season.

"It's an affront to our electoral process," Smith says. "It's a very unpatriotic thing to do."

Smith says his party takes theft seriously and has this warning, "Anyone seen removing signs, they will be prosecuted."

A threat Larry High hopes people will take seriously, reserving political views for the polls.

"We should be fair about everything," High says. "We know it's a race between the Republicans and the Democrats, but we should respect each other."

Smith says the majority of signs stolen have been signs supporting President Obama.

Volunteers at Mitt Romney's Chattanooga headquarters say they have also received reports of Romney signs being stolen out of front yards.

Stealing a campaign sign can lead to theft charges, if there is evidence of the crime.

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