ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — With a bit of wire and some cardboard, residents can express their political opinions from their front yard. In Winnebago County, residents are growing frustrated with their signs constantly getting stolen or damaged.
One Rockford resident who spoke with us says she’s on her third try.
Jane Wilson-Cook placed a sign in front of her Rockford home to show where her support lies this election season. One day, she noticed it was gone.
“To go into someone’s place and try to keep them from doing that from expressing themselves–that’s a terrible thing it’s not American,” said Wilson-Cook
She decided to use her art skills to make her own sign. A week later, that one was stolen too. Winnebago County Democratic and Republican chairs say it’s happening all over the area.
“This year, we’ve noticed a rash of incidents where people have been destroying and stealing mostly our Joe Biden signs,” said Democratic Chair Charlie Laskonis. “The little signs I would say forty or so have been stolen. The [number of] big signs either damaged or stolen [was] 15 or so.”
“I would say at least 4 or 5 times a day people are telling us signs are missing and that’s just who contact us,” said Republican Chair Eli Nicolosi. “Especially Trump signs we’ve had several Republicans catch people in the act pulling and yanking these Trump signs.”
Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross says this could result into a serious offense.
“When you are on a person’s property without permission, you are trespassing. When you take property from a person, it is a theft. When you damage property belonging to someone else, it’s criminal damage to property, so charges are range from misdemeanor to felony,” Hite Ross said.
Both county chairs want every resident to be able to express their opinion.
“We’d like you to stop. Your candidate should be able to win on their own merit. You shouldn’t have to destroy signs to try to give your candidate an advantage,” said Laskonis.
“I know that Winnebago County and Rockford is better than that so we’re encouraging folks to be civil and do the best you can do. If someone steals your sign, we’ll help you get another sign,” added Nicolosi.
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