Victims Retaliate After Election Sign Thefts Political sign stealing has become something of a problem this election year. In southern Michigan, campaign supporters are trying to get back at the thieves with techniques as varied as electric fences, grease and campaign donation promises.
NPR logo

Victims Retaliate After Election Sign Thefts

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Victims Retaliate After Election Sign Thefts

Victims Retaliate After Election Sign Thefts

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Back to the election now. On yards across the country, you can see where people stand by their lawn signs, that is, if someone doesn't steal them. In southwest Michigan, political activists on both sides say these lawn-sign disappearances, well, it's unprecedented. Independent producers Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister sent us this story.

Mr. BOB MILLER (Staff Member, Obama for America, Michigan): My name is Bob Miller. We're at the Union Pier Campaign for Change office for Barack Obama. We distribute a lot of yard signs out of this office, and at least half, if not more, are distributed to people who come in to tell the story of how their sign's been stolen and then they need another one.

(Soundbite of song "Stars and Stripes Forever")

Ms. SUSAN GROWER (Resident, Harvard, Michigan): Oh, you got my signs!

Unidentified Woman: The signs are here.

Ms. GROWER: Thank you so much. My name is Susan Grower (ph). I live in Harvard, Michigan. They keep getting me. We've always put the sign out or two and no one has ever taken signs. This is the first time that we're having this experience.

Mr. MILLER: It seems to be happening mostly at night and in every community around here.

Mr. JOE DIQUEDEWIRE (Resident, Michigan): My name is Joe Diquedewire(ph). I'm supporting John McCain in the upcoming presidential election.

Ms. SHERRY LYNN GALORRO (Resident, New Buffalo, Michigan): My name is Sherry Lynn Galorro(ph), and I live in New Buffalo, Michigan. I'm a McCain supporter, and I put my sign up in the yard, and one day it was there, the next day it was gone.

Mr. DIQUEDEWIRE: Both of them magically disappeared.

Ms. GALORRO: I was very angry.

(Soundbite of song "Stars and Stripes Forever")

Mr. RICK TUTTLE (Resident, Three Oaks, Michigan): My name is Rick Tuttle. I own a little bookstore in Three Oaks, Michigan. What I did was instead of replacing the sign, I put a sign out that says, hey, you, put back my Obama sign.

Mr. MILLER: Oh, we had a volunteer come in today who said that her sign was stolen. And so, they put up a sign that said, for every Obama sign you steal from this yard, I'm donating $50 more to the Obama campaign.'

Mr. TUTTLE: I have one friend who - she's replaced her sign twice now, and she's put grease on the borders of it, so when you pick it up, it hopefully will stick to your hand.

Mr. LEO JOVANOVIC (Resident, Union Pier, Michigan): Well, my name is Leo Jovanovic. I live on Old Valley Road outside of Three Oaks. And I decided to put electric fence around it. There's a four strands of electric wire, roughly six by six square, and the wires are about 12 inches apart, and there's four wires up. It ain't going to I kill you, you know, but if somebody wants to touch that wire they're going to be - they're going to get a little surprise.

(Soundbite of song "Stars and Stripes Forever")

Ms. MARY JO NALLENWEG (Resident, Village of Michiana, Michigan): I'm Mary Jo Nallenweg and I'm the village clerk and treasurer for the Village of Michiana. I had a resident come in and said that he'd (unintelligible).

Ms. GALORRO: I think they should be prosecuted. It's not very nice. It's not very Christian.

Mr. DIQUEDEWIRE: That's (unintelligible) when you go through the system.

(Soundbite of song "Stars and Stripes Forever")

Ms. NALLENWEG: I'm kind of disturbed by the undercurrent that seems to be running through this political campaign. I know there have always been signs stolen here and there throughout ever campaign, but I haven't heard of instances like this before. So, this is something new to me at least.

Mr. TUTTLE: It could be, you know, another sign of how divided we are and how much healing needs to take place after the election's over.

Ms. GROWER: I'm about to put back the signs.

Mr. JOVANOVIC: I told my wife that this is the third attempt of, you know, trying to keep the sign on our property, and if this one gets stolen, then I'll probably end up sleeping in a combine with a shotgun. So, yeah, I'm pretty passionate about keeping my Obama sign.

Ms. GROWER: I've been so angry about them stealing it. I don't know what I'm going to do the third time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. GROWER: Don't want to cry and I don't want to get any angrier. I just want them to stop doing this.

BRAND: Our story on the disappearance of Obama and McCain yard signs was produced by Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister for Long Haul Productions.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: There's more Day to Day after this.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.