The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 7, 2014

Joplin, Neosho candidates report campaign sign thefts

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Joplin Board of Education candidate and a Neosho City Council candidate have reported to police thefts of their campaign signs.

In Joplin, school board candidate Jeff Flowers said about 50 of his campaign signs were stolen over the past two weekends, including from his own yard and from neighbors’ yards. He said they were taken from along 32nd Street and Connecticut Avenue. He said enough were taken he knows it was intentional.

Flowers said he reported the sign thefts to police on Sunday and was told that they would increase patrols.

He said the situation is discouraging.

“It’s just a shame,” he said. “This is my third election campaign, and nothing like this has gone on before.”

Flowers said the thefts are just odd to him.

Joplin school board candidate Randy Steele said around 10 to 12 of his campaign yard signs were missing, but he’s not sure whether they were stolen or blown away by recent strong winds.

That’s also the situation with school board candidate Debbie Fort, who said 13 people on Saturday messaged her to say her campaign signs were gone from their yards. She said she didn’t know whether they were stolen.

Neither Steele nor Fort made a police report.

“I’m not going to worry about signs,” Fort said. “My focus is on the children of the school district. Signs don’t elect people.”

She said sign thefts appear to be common when people are running for office.

Joplin police Lt. Matt Stewart said the number of thefts of campaign yard signs this election season isn’t anything out of the ordinary.

In Neosho, police Chief David McCracken said City Council candidate Heather Bowers reported the theft of 40 campaign signs.

“I don’t know how accurate that is,” McCracken said. “We do have a report. The investigation is open.”

He said one yard sign was recovered, found in the street. He said he doesn’t know if the wind blew it there or someone dropped it.

He said the number of campaign sign thefts varies from year to year, but it’s usually part of every election season.

Tough cases

NEOSHO POLICE CHIEF DAVID McCRACKEN said the sign thefts are difficult to investigate, unless someone reports seeing someone stealing the signs or unless police catch the thieves in the act.

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