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Who is stealing the campaign signs?

Who stole my campaign signs?
As a political consultant for more than 20 years, I don’t think I have ever not had a complaint or call from the candidate asking what should we do about our signs being taken.
Most people assume that their competitor is stealing all of their campaign signs.
Candidates and their campaigns get so worked up over the stealing of political signs that they lose sight of communicating with voters and winning the election.
Don’t get me wrong. I caught a State Committeewoman for one of the parties stealing signs. She actually took a swing at me.
Do not spend any time trying to catch the person in action. Once we actually had pictures of a candidate stealing signs and the newspaper refused to publish because they said it was so close to the election (they had endorsed the opponent).
Here is my list of who is taking down (hint not stealing )campaign signs.

who steals campaign signs
  1. Code enforcement. If the sign is in the right of way, they will pick it up for sure. Also, if it is the wrong size for that municipality they will pick it up.
  2. People who need signs for another purpose. This is usually a garage sale or open house. They will just repurpose with cardboard taped over the sign so they do not have to go buy a blank sign.
  3. Visual pollution activists. These people just think yard signs are a blight on our streets and neighborhoods and they have no political bent, just an environmental bent.
  4. Kids. They think it is fun to knock down signs or make a game to see who can steal the most.
  5. Homeless people. They take the big 4’ x 8’ signs to make homes in the woods. Two for the roof and 4 for the sides and you have a place to stay in the woods
  6. Other campaigns not related to yours. They are just jealous that you have a great sign location and are not scared to just take yours down and replace it with theirs
  7. Land owners. This happens when there is a vacant lot on a great street where people just put up signs and others follow suit. The problem is that the owner only gave one campaign permission and they take down all the rest.
  8. Businesses that use signs. They are not wanting the signs, they want to use the stakes to put out the signs. Stakes are around $0.55 to $0.75 each.
  9. Lawn care professional. They are just absentmindedly mowing and did not slow down and they accidentally mangled the sign and just threw it away.
  10. Your opponent or their supporters. This does happen for sure. It is usually not the candidate themselves but someone who is mad about negative campaigning and takes it out on campaign signs. “Candidate caught stealing signs” is just not a headline you see very often relative to the amount of signs that disappear.

Signs have a way of disappearing. It is a fact. Stealing by the opponent is just one way your campaign signs walk away. That is why campaigns need to order more than they think they will use. It is more expensive to order a smaller quantity as the campaign draws to an end and you may not be able to get on the schedule at all. Just assume that 20% of your signs will get stolen from one of the above 10 listed culprits and don’t worry about it. Plan for it.

Todd Hutcheson is a former political consultant paid by the Democratic and Republican parties of Florida. He is the owner of and father of two boys.


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