Political sign-stealing is common during an election season, but Larry Korteum didn’t expect someone would up the ante after he put a particularly large political sign on his property last week.
Korteum, a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, installed a 4- foot-tall by 8-foot-wide sign on his property north of Madison Lake at the beginning of the month. About two days later, he woke up to find someone had painted “Radical Left Ahead” on the roadway with an area pointing toward his house in one lane of Le Sueur County Road 2 and “TRUMP” painted in the other lane.
Korteum said whoever disagrees with his sign hasn’t stopped there. He found what he calls a “fake Molotov cocktail” — a water bottle with a mask attached — in the ditch near his property late last week. And in the early morning hours Sunday, someone decided to paint “TRUMP” across both lanes of County Road 2 a bit farther from his home.
It’s not the only instance where someone wrote “Trump 2020” on the traffic lane. Drivers can see similar graffiti nearby on County Road 104 leading to Camp Patterson.
Korteum said he feels as though someone’s targeting his home because of the sign, though he said it doesn’t bother him much.
“I’m a Vietnam vet,” he said. “I’ve been in tighter spots than this.”
Still, Korteum is not the only one in the area with sign-related troubles. Many people he knows who support Biden experienced sign theft, while some Republicans in the area reported their political signs were defaced or stolen.
Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, said one of his 4-foot by 8-foot signs near Mount Kato was painted over a few weeks ago. And Munson said someone keeps stealing his lawn signs in the Lake Crystal area.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s come to that where people are willing to steal property,” Munson said.
Korteum agrees, though he’s a little more concerned about defacing the road.
“You have the right to express your political opinion, but not on a public roadway,” he said.
The Le Sueur County Sheriff’s Office has promised increased patrols in the area near Madison Lake. Stealing or defacing signs is technically minor property damage, with penalties depending on the value of the sign. Defacing a sign worth less than $500 carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Munson said he’d like to see people act more civil if they see others with political signs they don’t support.
“It speaks to the need to have a conversation with your neighbor about why they’re supporting a candidate,” he said. “I think people may be surprised why people are supporting a particular campaign.”