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Campaign signs disappearing
Council candidates report many of their political signs are being illegally removed
Candidates Bret Durossette and Mike Kline have reported that many of their campaign signs, like the ones here and smaller one, have been ripped down. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Political shenanigans? Teenage pranks?

Whatever is going on, council candidate Mike Kline is frustrated. He reported that he has seen about 50 yard signs vanish.

"This is the worst," said Kline, who is seeking re-election. "This is the fourth time running for City Council and I've never experienced anything like this."

Kline has reported that some of his big 4-foot by 8-foot signs have been pulled down to the ground.

At least one of thefts indicates the work may be the acts of teenagers. Kline said a surveillance video from a house in the Canyon Drive area showed a four-door sedan pulling and someone who appears to be 17 to 18 years old getting out of the backseat, running to grab two signs and take off in the car. The video was too grainy and dark to even make out the make and model of the car, said Ceres Police.

"There's nothing I really can do. All I can do is file a report. I haven't caught anybody."

Ceres Vice Mayor Bret Durossette has also been missing signs. He said he had about 75 signs left over from the 2011 campaign and has seen approximately 68 disappear. Durossette, who is a teacher and coach at Ceres High School, also reported bigger signs have been knocked off their stakes and onto the ground. He said his signs may be disappearing from the hands of teens.

State law makes it illegal for persons to knowingly destroy, mark, tear down, or otherwise deface a sign supporting or opposing a candidate for elective office or a ballot measure without authorization from the campaign responsible for the production or creation of the sign. The bill would make a person who violates this provision subject to an additional fine not to exceed $1,000.

Candidates Don Cool and Gene Yeakley have not posted any yard signs thus far in the campaign.

In 2012 the Ceres City Council took action to clearly define where large campaign signs may be posted during an election cycle.

City Hall received a number of complaints during the 2011 election about where signs were being placed, particularly along Hatch Road close to the roadway. The council reacted by enacting solutions.

Around Ceres, explained Senior Planner Tom Westbrook, there are various types of rights of way. The new law going into effect states that a 4' x 8' political sign may be posted within 10 feet of the roadway if no sidewalk exists and does not obstruct vision. If a sidewalk is present, the sign may be placed five feet from the back edge of the sidewalk.

Placing signs on canal banks or other property of the Turlock Irrigation District is not permitted.

The ordinance allows private homeowners to post smaller political yard signs in an R-1 or R-3 zone if they don't block the public's vision.