Trump campaign sign thieves caught on tape in Portage County

PORTAGE COUNTY, OH - Some local supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are getting fed up, after campaign signs continue to disappear from their yards.

Benjamin Kotkowski of Portage County’s Shalersville Township is a big Donald Trump supporter. He expresses his views with campaign signs in his yard and property he owns across the street.

Kotkowski says Thursday night, someone stole his signs. He replaced them, only to have them stolen again Sunday.

"It happened again last night and I was able to take a picture with a trail camera of folks who took them," he said.

The camera Kotkowski installed to a utility pole, snapped this photo of the thieves.

"It's encroaching on free speech and yea, it probably is kids...I hope to come to realize it is serious, it's a presidential campaign, it's serious business, people should be able to broadcast their opinions," he said.

"Every day somebody's coming in, saying they stole my signs again," said Elayne Cross, vice chair of the Portage County Republican Party.  She says she has received hundreds of reports of stolen campaign signs this election season.

"It does seem to be more in this election cycle than previous cycles and I just feel like we needed to raise awareness," Cross said.

The Portage County Sheriff says campaign sign thefts usually occur this time of year, and are often the result of children committing Halloween pranks.

"This isn't funny, this isn't a prank, this isn't cute...it's against the law," Cross said.

She says people who have been targeted say the thieves are specifically targeting Trump signs.

"They have a Trump sign between two other candidates, they took the Trump sign and left the other two...I had another person who had a Trump sign with two flags on each side, the took the Trump sign and left the flags," said Cross.

Benjamin Kotkowski says it is frustrating that his right to free speech continues to be violated.

"I'll keep putting them out...I want to put a bigger sign out now," he said.

Portage County Sheriff David Doak says he has not yet compiled a total list of the complaints he’s received. If caught, a person can be charged with theft and trespassing.

Craig Stephens, chairman of the Portage County Democratic Party, says he has had three campaign signs stolen from his yard this year. But he says he has only received the usual number of complaints of people stealing signs promoting Hillary Clinton.

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