Signing Off On Thefts

The election is over, but thefts of yard signs continue. Now, the victims are non-profit organizations. The Westport Police Department just issued this press release:

Numerous claims of missing lawn signs have been reported over the pastfew weeks by local nonprofits. Some of these signs were displayed on private property or were authorized to be placed on public property.

A group calling itself “The Committee” has written to at least one local nonprofitorganization stating that if they fail to remove lawn signs, “The Committee” will take down their signs “at first sight.”

The individual or individuals behind “The Committee” have not identified themselves. However, this incident has been reported to police and is underinvestigation.

Residents are advised against taking it upon themselves to remove signs that do not belong to them, from either public or private property. Enforcement of town rules is the responsibility of the town of Westport, not private citizens.

The removal of signs from public or private property by someone not authorized to do so by the town, or by the owner of the sign,may constitute theft. Entering onto private property to remove signs may constitute trespassing.

Both of these acts can result in arrest.

Anyone with information about the recent rash of missing signs is asked to call the Westport Police Department: 203-341-6000.  Charities that have had signs removed from authorized public or private locations are also encouraged to file a formal police report.

Nonprofits are reminded that signs advertising charitable events must be reviewed and approved by the town before the signs can be placed on town property or in the town right-of-way.

An electronic copy of the Temporary Sign Request form is available on the town’s website. Paper copies of this document can also be obtained from the First Selectman’s office.

For each event, a total of 15 signs are allowed on town property and in the town right-of-way. These signs cannot be placed more than 2 weeks before the event, and they must be removed within 2 days after the event.

11 responses to “Signing Off On Thefts

  1. I had three signs stolen from in front of my house on Greens Farms Road. One was a “thank you” to residents for electing me to the RTM. The other two were Westport Llibrary book sale signs, stolen on consecutive days.

    I did file a formal incident report with the Westport Police Department.

  2. Sounds like a really inefficient use of the police force. Maybe the people taking the signs are making a statement against the ugly blight of all this advertising, and nonprofit organizations should cut down on it.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      It’s allowed within the guidelines, and part of protected speech. You think it’s OK for people to steal, just because you don’t like the look? This is a slippery slope you’re going down.
      Based on what Dick wrote, people are trespassing on private property to do this. If I don’t like someone’s landscaping, does that mean I get to deem it a blight and remove it myself?

    • Lorraine Harrison

      I agree with you. I was forced to look at an ugly sign opposite my house on the Drill Ground.. and then after the election, it and another sign remained. I placed the one annoying me on the ground so when the Town workers mowed, they would pick it up and take it away(a week after the elections) it is still there… they ignored it… what to do??? I don’t think any of these signs should be allowed. many go into landfills.. I see them in the Town garbage along with the metal supports.

  3. Since when is picking up trash illegal?

    All those signs in the picture are illegal litter, trash, graffiti and are a blight on the community.

    As for on-profits really adhere to the regulation of only 15 signs, pre-registered by location?

    While it’s obviously wrong to steal something from private property, how on earth can the police, who don’t enforce the sign “regulations,” even if they had the jurisdiction, claim taking trash from public property is “theft’?

    Are the police really saying, “Yeah, it’s an illegal mess that the town is doing nothing about, but if you try to clean it up, we’ll arrest you.”?

    Would they arrest a person for picking up a discarded candy wrapper? Even members of the RTM had their own “cleanup crew” for this problem until someone politicized it. – Chris Woods

  4. many realtors post illegal signs. Realtors put them at the street corner as well as in front of the home for sale. The last time I checked that was illegal. Builder and construction crews install non permit signs into cement all over town. How come they dont get pulled out? I have witnessed local town people, even an unsung hero, remove signs. You cant control everything. Save for inside your home

    • whats really annoying is when the realtors put their signs in the ROAD either hampering vehicular or pedestrian traffic. some even put the signs on other people’s property. its ridiculous seeing them in the shoulder, sidewalk, bike lane, etc. I may accidentally knock those over / collapse them 😉

  5. “Enforcement of town rules is the responsibility of the town of Westport, not private citizens.” Yes, it is!

    When government doesn’t fulfill its responsibility (in this case, enforcing signage regulations), people take advantage and — as is often the case — citizens step in as a counterbalance. It’s just what people do.

    Does anyone else find it ironic that the Town is threatening to arrest people engaged in petty sign theft but is apparently cool with the dozens upon dozens who steal free advertising space by junking up our public thoroughfares?

  6. and i can’t tell you how many signs that i see that are for events that have already taken place not days but weeks and some times months prior. many signs still out from the election. maybe a solution is to really limit things and the town issues a permit/doles out stickers that get affixed to the approved sign showing its legit. and if someone doesnt clean up the sign after the even, they are banned from placing a sign again in the future.

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