It has been a record year for political signs in Rappahannock County — and a record for vandalism, too.
Rappahannock County Sheriff Connie Compton said her office has received more reports of stolen and vandalized signs this year than in previous election years. “We see ‘Biden’ on the Trump signs and ‘Trump’ on the Biden signs,” Compton said. “It’s pretty equal across the two political parties.”
“We got off to an early start in August and put up two dozen big highway signs that were immediately vandalized and defaced,” said Ross O'Donoghue, Vice Chair of the Rappahannock Democratic Committee.
In early September, Mike Massie wrote a letter to the editor of the Rappahannock News offering a $1,000 reward “for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who defaced the Joe Biden signs.”
So far, no luck.
But, O’Donoghue said the local Democratic Committee was “able to replace them and add more. The campaigns have been generous and kept us well supplied with yard signs. They’re still flying off the shelf,” he added.
Rappahannock Republican Committee Chair Terry Dixon told the Rappahannock News that the committee has handed out double the usual number of yard signs in 2020. “The enthusiasm this year is really quite remarkable,” Dixon said. “We’ve seen double the number of large signs this year.”
And Dixon said he himself had two Trump yard signs stolen from his property this election season.
So with both the Republican and Democratic Committees in Rappahannock saying that 2020 has been a record year for yard signs, it’s no wonder that vandalism in the county has reached a record high, too.
But the Sheriff added that in a county like Rappahannock where lots of workers carry paint in their truck beds, it’s difficult to apprehend vandals unless they are caught in the act. “You pretty much need to find someone with paint on their hands in front of the sign,” Compton said, “or it will be very hard to prove.”
Nonetheless, these are not insignificant offenses. According to Virginia code, both petty larceny and vandalism are considered Class 1 misdemeanors and are punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.