By Chris Edwards
COLMESNEIL– With an election day less than a month away, signs for various candidates and items up for voting have become a common display in many Tyler County residents’ yards.
Such public displays can often be encouraging to thieves and pranksters; however, it is no laughing matter. In the state of Texas, stealing campaign signs is considered theft of property.
Bo Bendy, who is running for a position on the Colmesneil ISD Board of Trustees, recently had eight of his campaign signs taken from Colmesneil residences.
Bendy said the signs were taken on Saturday night and five of them were thrown into a current board member’s yard. “It’s petty and childish,” Bendy said.
Bendy said that although people have a right to disagree with him and to vote for whomever they wish; it is not just his own money being spent to produce the signs.
“I have spent my own money and have had people sponsor and spend their own money on these signs. You don’t need to trespass or commit any crimes,” he wrote in a public post on Facebook on Monday.
Bendy said he has already replaced the signs but said “hopefully” there are no future incidents.
“A lot of people got upset about this,” he said. “I don’t know if it was kids who did it or who it was.” He added that one of the residents who reported sign theft had contacted the sheriff’s office.
By Texas statute, most cases of sign theft result in misdemeanor charges, but if the value is more than $1,500, the crime is considered a state jail felony. Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford said that while there has been similar incidents, the thefts are usually not reported by the candidates.
The statute states it is illegal to “steal, willfully deface, mutilate or destroy any campaign yard sign on private property,” and is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and/or a year in jail.
Ultimately, Bendy said voters can show who they support at the ballot box. “The bottom line is it doesn’t need to happen. If you don’t agree with my politics, then don’t vote for me. Don’t go trespassing,” he said.