Renton man charged with theft of 138 campaign yard signs

November 4, 2008

By Staff

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Prosecutors are recommending misdemeanor charges be filed against a 43-year-old Renton man for stealing 138 campaign yard signs, King County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman

 John Urquhart said.

“We get reports like this every election season,” he said. “And usually, it’s like when people call and say, ‘Hey, my cat disappeared.’ What do you do, go out and round up all the coyotes?

“But this time, we got two independent people who got a license plate.”

Most of the signs belonged to Marcie Maxwell, a candidate for 41st District state representative.

The investigation began Sept. 28, when Maxwell reported to Newcastle Police that two people saw someone taking signs on separate occasions. They wrote down the license plate numbers of two cars linked to that person. The vehicles belonged to the same person, Urquhart said.

Deputies spoke with the husband of the registered owner of the vehicles and recovered 138 signs. He was not arrested, but charges have been referred to the court, Urquhart said.

The signs were taken from along the Maple Valley Highway, unincorporated areas of Renton, and the cities of Newcastle and Bellevue.

The suspect is expected to be charged with eight counts of removing or defacing political advertising, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail for each count.

“We do take these reports seriously and we will arrest these people when they’re stealing yard signs,” Urquhart said. “This threatens the very fabric of our democratic system.”

He said arrests have been made for stealing signs before, but he didn’t recall any specifics.

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