Cindy Hoehne can’t figure out why someone would deface a campaign sign.
The large “Romney Colorado” sign that Hoehne and her husband, Gene, tied down on their fence in front of their Windsor residence earlier this month definitely spelled out who they were voting for.
“We had no sooner put that up than a black SUV went roaring down the street, and they were yelling obscenities, and I didn’t think too much of it at the time,” Cindy said. “I just thought, ‘There’s somebody that doesn’t like Romney.’ ”
The next morning, the Hoehnes discovered that someone spelled out “God Hates” above the Romney Colorado in black spray paint. They ripped a hole in one sign and also stole another sign.
“This hasn’t been the first year we’ve had problems. It seems like every election. I thought that was such a horrible, horrible message, no matter who you’re for. It was awful,” Cindy said. “I just find it so hateful. People are actually coming up to your lawns or onto your private property to do this. I don’t understand why in a country where we’re renowned for freedom of speech, why some people won’t let you do that. Why they won’t allow you the same freedoms they enjoy, which is freedom of speech. Have respect for others, It’s supposed to be a free country, so let’s let it be.”
Gene, who was a Republican District I captain for the past couple of voting cycles, and Cindy always have campaign signs lining the fence along their property.
“Defacing a sign anyplace is not good, but then when they do it on your property it’s even a little bit more of an affront,” Gene said.
Loren Hard, a Severance resident who works for Ace Hardware, happened to ride past the Hoehnes when they were trying to clean up the sign and gave them a bottle of graffiti remover to recover the sign.
“He never told me who he was for or anything. He just said, ‘That is horrible message. That needs to come off,’ ” Cindy said.
Windsor police never found the culprit.
Theft and defacing of signs during an election season isn’t anything new. The Denver Post recently published a story about a sign in Littleton that was wrapped around a half-eaten turkey carcass and stuffed in a mailbox.
Windsor police chief John Michaels said stealing or defacing a sign is classified as criminal mischief or theft. Depending on the value of the sign, if a person gets caught, he or she can be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor (value of less than $500), class 1 misdemeanor (value of $500-$1,000) or a class 4 felony (more than $1,000).
“We’ve had several reports of signs stolen. That is a trespass and theft charge,” Michaels said. “Down in Denver, somebody took a shot at the Obama office, shot out a window. It’s just ridiculous what people get involved in during the political season. They think by stealing a sign, it doesn’t matter what side — Libertarian, Republican, Democrat, the Green Party — they think that they’re really changing somebody’s vote. That doesn’t happen. All they’re doing is committing a crime. They could have a permanent criminal record for doing something that makes no difference.”
Greeley police Sgt. Susan West, the public information officer for the department, said it’s been quiet in Greeley this election season regarding defacing or stealing signs.
“I haven’t heard of anything like that. Occasionally, we’ll have people stealing signs and those kind of things, but I haven’t seen anything about damage or vandalism or theft of signs,” West said. “It seems like at least once a year we hear about people taking a sign from one house and putting it in a different yard. That may still be occurring, but it’s not something that rises to the point where we would take an actual criminal report on it. If it does happen, we’ll deal with it at the time that it does but it’s not something that we’re expecting or anticipating.”