Multiple candidate campaign signs taken, tampered with

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Several candidates running in local elections, including both for the City Council and for the Winters Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees, have reported to the Winters Express instances of campaign signs being vandalized, removed, or impeded in recent weeks. 

The Express has so far received reports from Board of Trustees candidates Robert Warren and Carrie Green and City Council candidates Albert Vallecillo, Carol Scianna, and Lisa Baker, who all reported that some of their signs around town have gone missing and needed to be replaced.

Vallecillo noted that one of the signs went missing after a windy day, and City Council candidate Richard Casavecchia said the only instance of one of his signs being removed was a property owner removing it to mow their lawn and forgetting to put it back up.

However, other instances include signs being taken from the same location multiple times, as well as signs being bent, vandalized, or obscured with other candidates’ campaign materials. Tampering with campaign signs is illegal.

Police Chief John P. Miller explained in an email to the Express that “stealing the signs would be a violation of Cal. Penal Code 488 (petty theft — value under $950),” while “Defacing/destroying would be a violation of Cal. Penal Code 594 (vandalism — value under $400). Both are misdemeanors.”

Miller also noted that “because it is a misdemeanor, we cannot arrest unless it occurs in our presence or is a juvenile,” but noted that if there is other evidence of someone tampering with the signs, specifically, “security camera footage,” then the Winters Police Department, “would follow up with an investigation and it would go through the District Attorney’s Office for review and possible filing of charges.”

“Even if there are no suspects and it is reported to us, we would document the incident in a report,” Miller said.

Residents should report suspicious activity, that isn’t an emergency situation, to the Winters PD 24-hour dispatch center at 530-795-4561 or tips.winters@winterspolice.org.

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