MEDICINE HAT, AB – Drive down any street in Medicine Hat and you’ll likely see an election sign or two.
It’s a way for voters to show support for their chosen party, but that’s opened the door for local vandals to either destroy or deface the signs.
On Monday, a post circulated around Facebook from Southwest Hill resident Nicole Johnson, who claimed her NDP signs were vandalized twice over the span of two days.
In the post, she said a small sign supporting Cypress-Medicine Hat candidate Peter Mueller was thrown into the street, and another sign with Rachel Notley’s name was bent in half and had a leg cracked.
Medicine Hat Police Insp. Joe West said people often forget these signs belong to the candidates themselves and are private property.
“Those signs are somebody's private property and to steal or deface them, technically can be a criminal code offence,” said West. “There's no bylaw for theft, so if you steal a sign it's definitely a criminal code offence. So, a little bit more serious than some folks may realize.”
It’s not the only case of vandalism in the province, as last week an Alberta Party candidate’s election sign was defaced with racist graffiti.
West said anyone caught defacing these signs can expect to pay out of pocket in fines.
“Certainly there are fines and other sanctions,” he said. “I don’t anybody, for stealing a sign, would like to find themselves with a criminal code court date.”
West added most cases of sign vandalism aren’t reported to police, but urges anyone with concerns to contact police.
“I’d advise the candidate right away with regards to the sign going missing or the sign being vandalized,” he said. “Certainly, you can call the police service on the non-emergency line, or better yet do an online report.”
Anyone needing to file an online report can visit mhps.ca.
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