Police Look Into Theft, Destruction Of Signs

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Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner said whoever stole and damaged a town council candidate's signs over the weekend could face a number of charges.

The suspects stole more than 60 of town council candidate Tim Fruth's signs and dumped them in his yard Saturday night.

"I'm pretty sure it's kids," Fruth said. "They spray-painted an ‘X' across them and dumped them in my front yard."

Fruth said more signs were stolen Sunday night.

Fruth, assistant principal at Rim Country Middle School, strongly suspects high school students are responsible.

Officers Henry Thomason and Steve Montgomery questioned students Monday in connection with the crimes.

Gartner said officers are following up on leads and those responsible face several misdemeanor charges.

"Obviously, you have the theft charges," Gartner said, "and there is a state statute that is a class-two misdemeanor that deals with damaging or defacing political signs. You could also have a criminal damage charge if the signs were destroyed."

Gartner said there is no indication of a political motive.

Fruth said regardless of the motive, he is disheartened by what happened.

"I'm crushed over it," Fruth said. "It's getting to the point where I can't afford to run because I can't replace all these signs."

Fruth said the vandals have destroyed close to $300 worth of signs.

Mayoral candidate Barbara Brewer said she has had 23 of her large signs and 50 of her small signs stolen.

"They are stomping on them, tearing them up, taking them -- whatever they can do," Brewer said. "The Main Street area is where my signs are being taken. It's getting pretty disgusting."

Anyone with information can call the Payson Police Department at (928) 474-5177.

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