Weekend rash of sign thefts in Sharon triggers patrol increase

  • Several people in Sharon reported their Biden/Harris political signs and Black Lives Matter were stolen recently. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Several people in Sharon reported their Biden/Harris political signs were stolen recently. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Several people in Sharon reported their Biden/Harris political signs were stolen recently. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Signs along Jarmany Hill Road in Sharon that replaced Biden-Harris political signs after they had been stolen. Sept. 15, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Signs along Jarmany Hill Road in Sharon that replaced Biden-Harris political signs after they had been stolen. Sept. 15, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Signs along Jarmany Hill Road in Sharon that replaced Biden-Harris political signs after they had been stolen. Sept. 15, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/16/2020 4:30:56 PM

After a rash of lawn sign thefts in Sharon over the past weekend, Peterborough Police Chief Scott Guinard spoke to residents about what they could do at the Sharon Select Board meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

At least six Sharon residences had their Biden-Harris or Black Lives Matter signs removed over the weekend, Guinard said, although only one sign was formally reported stolen, on Jarmany Hill Road. Several more Peterborough residents recently reported their Biden, Trump, and Black Lives Matter signs stolen, he said.

“People are very passionate about their party affiliations, so we’re seeing an uptick,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting. The Peterborough Police Department is trying to identify who was responsible for the thefts, he said.

Sharon resident Jim Martens realized his Biden sign was gone on Friday when he went out to put up a Black Lives Matter sign. “I was surprised,” he said, and replaced it with a sign noting that the first one had disappeared. “and that was stolen along with the Black Lives Matter sign,” he said. Other residents are taking their signs in at night or placing them within range of motion detector lights, he said, but his yard’s configuration makes it a “prime target.” Martens didn’t report the thefts, but he said he intends to continue replacing the signs, to “let them know that we’re not giving up.” A Sharon resident on Spring Hill reported additional stolen signs on their street during the Select Board meeting.

One Rindge resident’s home has appeared to be targeted due to their Black Lives Matter sign, Sgt. Rachel Malynowski said. Police initially received a report of the sign being stolen during the last week of August, she said, and that vehicles have slowed down in front of the house and operators have yelled “nasty racial slurs.” Police received no additional complaints after a couple back-to-back incidents, but Malynowski said she wasn’t sure whether the resident had put a sign back out. “If we find out who the suspects are we’re going to investigate accordingly but at this point we don’t have anybody in our radar,” she said.

Stealing signs is a misdemeanor crime regardless of the sentiment on them, Guinard said, with one charge per theft event per property.

NH RSA 664:21 also imposes a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation for "removing, defacing, or destroying political advertising on private property.”

Guinard said he requested additional evening patrols on Jarmany Hill Road and encouraged residents to call the police if they see or hear someone on their property after dark. Residents should consider putting a unique marker on their signs with Sharpie to allow police to trace them back to their owner in case they’re stolen and dumped, Guinard said. Residents can also deter theft by placing their signs within the reach of motion detector lights, or by installing a trail camera – so long as the camera is hidden, Guinard said, to avoid the camera being stolen as well. 




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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