Local political party Chairmen see increase in yard sign theft and vandalization

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – When talking politics, it is common to speak about the divide. And as the election ramps up, there is one issue both parties agree on.

Stop. Stealing. Signs.

That’s the message both the La Crosse Republican and Democratic Parties have for thieves and vandals in the area.

“I’m getting two or three phone calls a day from people that have had signs stolen or destroyed,” said Bill Feehan, the La Crosse Republican Party Chair.

“This time, I’ve had some comments from people who’ve called me or emailed me saying ‘You know the sign I just got the other day? Someone stole it.'” said Michael Smuksta, the La Crosse Democratic Party Chair.

Both parties say stolen and defaced signs are expected during an election season, but this year the thefts and vandalization has increased.

“I think it’s a little worse this time. In 2018 when I was Chair, I didn’t have any reports of Evers signs being taken,” said Smuksta.

“The number of reports that we’re getting right now is just much greater than in the past,” said Feehan.

They said, it’s disheartening to see this happening.

“There’s not enough respect I guess. For the other side, the other point of view,” said Smuksta.

“We have some people on that side of the political spectrum that think it’s OK to steal or destroy somebody’s property. I think we’re better than that,” said Feehan.

In an effort to curb the thieves and vandals, the parties are offering advice.

“We’re advising people to take their Trump yard sign into the house at night and then bring it back out the next day,” said Feehan.

“Have some respect for other people’s property. Have some respect for their right to express their opinion by putting a yard sign out,” said Smuksta.

In Wisconsin, the tampering or theft of these political signs is just as much a violation as if any other personal property was stolen or damaged. And the punishment for getting caught can be as extreme as being fined up to $10,000 and sentenced to nine months in jail.

The La Crosse Police Department says so far they’ve received about 10 to 12 reports of stolen and vandalized signs. Both parties urge those who have signs stolen or defaced to file a police report, and then contact the party, so they can give you a new sign.