NEWBERRY — District 40 Rep. Walt McLeod said that about three-fourths of his larger political signs were either cut to shreds, pushed to the ground or totally removed on Monday night.
McLeod said the vandalism occurred throughout Newberry County, from Whitmire to Pomaria and in Little Mountain, Prosperity and Silverstreet. He said the signs were the four feet by eight feet larger signs.
“A host of these signs were located in the yards of my supporters,” McLeod said.
In addition, McLeod said that many smaller yard signs requested by his supporters had also been removed from their yards.
“This vandalism was clearly a well-planned scheme,” he said.
McLeod’s political signs are not the only candidate’s signs that have been vandalized, according to Sheriff Lee Foster.
Richard Martin Jr.’s signs have been destroyed or stolen as have those of other politicians from the state level.
“Ever since March 30, my campaign has lost 300 to 400 little signs and 25 to 30 bigger signs have been destroyed,” said Martin. “At first, signs were just going missing or thrown into a ditch, but then they started getting cut up.”
Foster said the signs taken earlier this summer were all in the same geographical location, but now with the vandalism being wide spread, he believes it has become well orchestrated.
“When we find who’s doing this, they will be charged. There is actually a specific statute about removing someone’s campaign signs,” said Foster. “They could charged with malicious injury.”
Foster said that, if convicted, each offense (every sign taken or destroyed) could carry 30 days in jail and/or a fine. He also said that he will demand restitution to the politicians.
Currently the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office does not have any suspects nor are they accusing anyone, but they are looking at forensic evidence and checking to see if there are surveillance cameras at any of the vandalized locations.
Foster is also urging the public for their assistance as well.
“In this day in age, many citizens have cameras at their home,” said Foster. “I am asking anyone who has this technology to get in touch with us, so that we can see if anyone was caught on camera.”
If you have any information on this case, contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office or call the Midland’s Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.