Signs vanishing in Livingston recall effort

August 25, 2010 

LIVINGSTON — As the Aug. 31 recall election of Mayor Daniel Varela Sr. and Councilwoman Martha Nateras draws closer, the bitterness of the city's political divide has intensified.

But this time it's not coming from the City Council chambers — instead, it's spread to the streets of Livingston.

The "No! On the Recall" committee has had nine of its signs stolen in the past few days, said Myra Bettencourt, a committee member. All seven signs were paid for with donated money and cost about $100 each.

The theft was reported to the Livingston Police Department on Monday night, Bettencourt said.

"It's very frustrating because to me, it shows that they're thieves," she said. "That's being very childish when they're taking these signs down and destroying them — this shows the type of people they are."

However, supporters of the recall haven't been immune from the malicious acts — three of their signs are missing and one was vandalized, said Gurpal Samra, former mayor and supporter of the recall effort.

No police report from supporters

Supporters of the recall haven't filed a report with the police department because there's not much they can do about it, Samra said.

Councilman Rodrigo Espinoza paid for the "Yes" signs, he said — five large signs around town that cost about $100 each.

At least one of the large signs has been vandalized and some smaller ones have been stolen, but Espinoza said it's possible that it could be kids doing the damage.

That type of activity is inappropriate, but nothing new in Livingston, Samra said.

"Over the years, signs always disappear," he added. "It bothers me because stealing signs — that's childish. Those signs are expensive."

But sign-stealing might be more obvious to the political insiders of Livingston.

Lt. Sharon Silva of the Livingston Police Department has been with the department for 19 years and has never heard of signs being stolen before, she said.

Since the report was taken, officers on patrol are being advised to watch for anyone stealing recall signs, Silva said.

Since removing a sign from someone's property could be considered theft, if someone is caught stealing a sign, the case probably would be sent to the district attorney's office.

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