By Hayley Kappes
Killeen Daily Herald
This year's presidential election was characterized by its share of heated partisan rivalry – and not only among candidates or political pundits.
Staunch supporters of presidential candidates Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have seen their public signage supporting both presidential candidates stolen from front yards throughout the area.
Supporters of each side wage a quiet war against the opposition by taking down signs. It gets worse closer to the election.
Volunteers at the Bell County Democratic Party Headquarters dashed in and out Monday afternoon grasping the last of the site's stock to ensure their yard had proper representation.
Will Franklin, the campaign manager for Ralph Sheffield, the Republican nominee in the State House District 55 race, said the sign-stealing campaign seems to be about average this year, and is just something they have to deal with, especially with a races as hotly contested as those in Bell County.
Franklin said their campaign ordered about 2,500 signs for the general election alone. And just to make sure, they kept a reserve supply of signs for the final two days for just this type of thing.
Jeanette Tolbert of Harker Heights noticed her sign supporting McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was missing when she and her husband returned home from out of town after Halloween.
Tolbert said she doesn't think anyone in her neighborhood committed the theft, as yards on her block still displayed both McCain and Obama signs.
"I figure, in this kind of environment with the political climate as heated as it is, those things are going to happen," Tolbert said. "I wasn't so angry about it because I wasn't that surprised."
The sign has been in her yard for several weeks, and Tolbert said she will not bother replacing it since the election is today.
Tolbert said it's one of the least objectionable things that's happened as a result of the presidential race.
An article in Sunday's Killeen Daily Herald reported Eleonora Santana's yard sign supporting Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, was stolen twice in the past week and replaced by a McCain-Palin sign.
Santana said she bought a new sign Monday, even though the presidential campaigns have wound down to the final hours.
Miriam Rodriguez, secretary of Harker Heights Police Chief Mike Gentry, said HHPD has received several reports of political yard sign thefts in the city during the past month, but no criminal charges have been filed.
Karla Fleming's Obama sign was stolen from her front yard about a month ago, but she didn't replace it. She also had two Obama flags stolen off her vehicle while she voted early Saturday at the Killeen Parks and Recreation Center.
Fleming said she thinks another Obama supporter who liked the flags is responsible for the theft.
"I am hoping to see the person who stole mine," Fleming said. "It really hurts when people violate your right to privacy."
Contact Hayley Kappes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559; Justin Cox contributed to this story.