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Political campaign signs stolen in Hellam Township


A couple of weeks ago, a group of candidates running to unseat three Hellam Township supervisors put up five large campaign signs.

Two to three days later, four of the signs — measuring 4 feet by 4 feet — were removed and are presumed stolen, said one of the challengers.

A witness who saw a man remove the signs from the 5700 block of Lincoln Highway called Hellam Township Police and reported the alleged theft, said Riki Potosky, a challenger.

"There was a gentleman, and I use the term loosely, who pulled up in a white truck, wearing a bright shirt, and took down the signs," she said.

With the signs at a cost of just under $100 each, Potosky estimated that incident cost the candidates about $500.

"We don't have a lot of money in our fund," she said. "It's very sad that somebody would feel they should take out signs."

Reported: Mark Sowers, the township police chief, said an officer took a report of the theft, which happened May 7, and police are investigating.

"That is the only report that we had," he said.

However, other political signs, including some belonging to the incumbents, are known to have been removed, but those weren't reported to police, he said. Those signs, he added, were at the intersections of Lincoln Highway and Cool Creek Road and at Lincoln Highway and Accomac Road.

Potosky, Dave Miller and Phil Smith are running as a team against incumbents Bill Sprenkle, Stephen Wolf and Mike Martin, who are also running together. All are Republicans.

Others: Additional signs were removed from along Route 30, but the state Department of Transportation likely took those down, the chief said.

PennDOT forbids signs, such as campaign signs, along highways such as Route 30. PennDOT workers can also remove signs from along state roads if they create hazards for motorists, such as impeding sight of traffic when making a turn, or if they get in the way of workers trying to perform maintenance, such as mowing, according to PennDOT.

Reached by phone Thursday, Wolf said he hadn't heard of any signs being removed.

However, Martin said he knows of a few instances where signs touting his side were removed from supporters' property.

Smith said he was also told one of his side's signs was removed from the yard of a supporter, and Potosky said she knows of three other signs that were stolen from another supporter's property.

"You can only speculate, and I'm not the kind of person who will accuse anybody," Smith said. "It has to have been done by somebody who's against us and for the other side."

Who took the signs, and whether it was politically motivated, remains a mystery.

Martin said it's unlikely one of his supporters took the opponents' signs.

"It would not be one of our supporters removing any of their signs," Martin said. "And I don't think they would."

Smith and Martin, however, said stealing signs only does voters a disservice and muddies the election process.

"It's certainly not the type of behavior we need in an election process that should be fair and transparent," Martin said.

Sprenkle and Miller couldn't be reached for comment. The primary is Tuesday.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.