Greenwich Police Warn of Potential Arrest for Stealing Campaign Signs

It’s campaign season, and as of Oct 19 campaign signs, which are considered protected speech, were officially allowed on public property, with the exception of public schools.

Lawn signs for local candidates for State Rep and State Senator went up in earnest, and beginning Oct 21 Trump/Pence signs began popping up.

Greenwich Police released a statement to the media on Thursday regarding thefts of political campaign signs.

First, they clarified some misinformation from a social media post by saying that the department has not, and will not remove political signs.

Campaign signs in the Lake Ave traffic circle. Oct 22, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
There are several Biden/Harris signs with an attached note saying, “Think Twice before stealing my sign. If you do, I’ll donate $15 to Planned Parenthood, Everytown for Gun Safety and the Biden-Harris Campaign and put up a new sign.” Oct 22, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

“The author (of the post) thought we were removing the signs because they have disappeared, Lt Zuccerella said in the statement.

Police say that anyone who has had a sign stolen from their private property can contact Greenwich Police to report the theft. If someone has their property stolen from public property they can call to report the theft as well. 

Earlier in the week Zuccerella said, in a separate email, that taking a sign without the owner’s permission could result in a charge of Larceny in the 6th degree.

“First, we need a victim and then we need to have probable cause the sign was stolen and not ‘blown away in the wind.’ If signs are on public property, it is very hard to prove who or what took the sign,” he said. “We have arrested people in the past years, however they were caught with them in mass and it was obvious it was a theft.”

Signs can be placed on public property, but not public school property, and need to be removed after the election. 

On Thursday Sandy Litvack, chair of Greenwich Voices for Democracy, said close to 100 of his group’s signs had been stolen.

“In many instances they’re right alongside other signs that people aren’t touching,” he said. “The ones being removed are our signs because they’re the only ones that tag the local GOP candidates with being part of the Trump train and Trumpism, and saying if you vote for them your vote is for Trumpism in the state. We’re the only guys calling them out and that’s why they’re taking them down.”

“Not one of them has had the courage to stand up and disown Trump and say that they repudiate him. Not a single one. But loads of national ones have, including Michael Steel, Colin Powell and Ben Sasse from Republican Senator from Nebraska.”

“They’re taking the Trump train, and the Trumpism is bad for DC/CT/Greenwich. They take the ones that point out their silence and complicity,” he added.

RTC chair Dan Quigley said he had not had many complaints of local Republicans’ signs being stolen.

“There have been some folks who have put up signs in support of the President, which they are entitled to do, and reported them as having been taken,” he added. “But I don’t think they are surprised or taken aback by that. They almost expect the worst.”

“I have been very clear to the RTC via email and at meetings to please follow the established rules,” he continued. “Removing signs is punishable by law. And if caught, people will be in trouble.”

With regard to Mr Litvak’s signs, Quigley said, “I encourage him to put more of them up. Our voters are well informed and sophisticated, and I believe those signs will backfire on our opponents just like they did last year.”

Campaign signs at corner of Hillside Rd and E Putnam Ave. Oct 22, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Signs at Hillside Rd and E Putnam Ave. Oct 22, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Campaigns signs on traffic circle at Milbank and East Elm. Oct 22, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager