LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The Lawton mayoral and City Council elections are coming up quickly, and more campaign signs are popping up along the streets. While they help to promote candidates, they can also be targets for thieves. A resident caught some thieves on surveillance video snatching the signs from their Crosby Park front yard just after midnight on August 1st. The video was posted to Facebook and the resident asked if anyone knew the people who walked away with signs.
This resident is lucky to have a camera set up and pointed in the right direction, but others aren't so lucky. Several Lawton mayoral candidates have reported their signs missing this election cycle with some estimating hundreds have vanished.
Sgt Timothy Jenkins with the Lawton Police Department said if you aren't the candidate, taking the sign is illegal.
"You as a person or a regular citizen who wants to come by and take those signs, you don't have that right to pick them up," Jenkins said. "That belongs to the candidate. Unless you have that permission from that candidate to remove those signs, you're not allowed to touch them."
Jenkins said if this happens to you, the best thing to do is tell that candidate and file a report online.
"If you feel like that you have to bring evidence or you have a video camera or something like that bring it to us at the police department," Jenkins said. "We'll take that, look at it and put it with your report."
The city of Lawton has a role in removing signs if needed. Lawton Community Services Director Richard Rogalski said they notify the candidate immediately so they aren't considered missing.
Signs aren't allowed in the medians or where it could obstruct drivers view of the road.
"Obviously, you do no want to over regulate what people consider free speech," Rogalski said. "So we are very careful on those signs that we do have to remove."
Rogalski said the city is working on making changes to their city code regarding these temporary signs, but will wait to present them to council until after the general election in November.
Primary election day for Lawton Mayor and City Council members Ward 1 and 2 is August 28th.