News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012
EVANS, Ga. -- Three people have been arrested on charges they vandalized dozens of political campaign signs overnight.
The three suspects are 29-year-old Angelique Bane, 17-year-old Kyle Austin Hobson and 18-year-old Haley Nicole Craft.
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office says the trio was caught damaging other property, then confessed to defacing signs supporting Mitt Romney and Lee Anderson.
"It was just ridiculous to see every sign on both signs off the signs being defaced like that," said Leslie Prescott, who was driving into work on Belair Road when she saw the signs.
"They weren't like this when I left work yesterday," she explained. "For someone to come and do that to my sign, yeah, I'd be really upset about it."
Turns out, dozens of signs across Richmond and Columbia counties were either spray painted or ripped up overnight.
"There's three weeks to go and this is just a sad turn of events in the campaign season," said Ryan Mahoney with Lee Anderson for Congress.
The large signs support both presidential candidate Romney and congressional candidate Anderson. The Anderson camp actually paid for most of them. They say they're out thousands of dollars.
"Destroying signs and destroying property is not what campaigns are about. It's about the issues, it's about the policies, it's about getting America back on track," Mahoney said.
Their campaign headquarters along Washington Road was also vandalized.
"Some of them have been pulled down and some of them have been stolen I believe as well," Mahoney said.
"This is not a professional way to handle this. Each side wants to be heard, heard from their part and their views of things, but going out and defacing the signs, that's not right," Prescott said.
The Richmond County Democratic Party is speaking out against the vandals.
"We condemn that sort of thing. That doesn't accomplish anything," said Lowell Greenbaum, chairman of the Richmond County Democratic Party.
They say they've also been victims of sign stealing and defacing, but in this case, they believe the red circles and X's are nothing more than a spray painting prank.
"Hopefully this was a bunch of kids who were having a good time, period, and nothing political about it," Greenbaum said.
But campaign managers for Anderson are less convinced.
"There's tons of signs all over the place, but it just so happens that it's only the Mitt Romney and Lee Anderson signs, so I think that says something about the folks that committed this crime," Mahoney said.
Anderson's camp says they will press charges and have spent the day counting how many signs were stolen or defaced.