COVINGTON -- The Newton County Sheriff's Office has arrested two Covington teens in connection with the theft of campaign signs from "multiple political candidates," according to NCSO spokesman 1st Lt. Mark Mitchell.
Anthony Trevor Cunard, 18, and Kyle Boehm, 19, both of Covington were arrested Friday night and charged with the theft of the signs.
Mitchell said recovered were approximately 45 signs belonging to Newton County candidates. Newton County Sheriff candidate Bill Watterson filed a complaint Thursday night in connection with an incident involving his signs.
"I've had a bunch of campaign signs stolen and last night (Thursday) a gentleman I had mentioned having signs stolen to was out in his yard and it was still broad daylight," Watterson said. "A white pickup came through and two white guys got out and picked up signs and started pitching them in the back of the truck. He and his wife chased these guys down and found them at another intersection doing the same thing."
Watterson said the pursuit continued until the couple was able to get the truck to pull over at a gas station at Ga. highways 36 and 212.
"They said the guys had half a pickup truck load full of campaign signs, primarily mine," Watterson said, adding that the couple attempted to grab some of the signs back. "The boys cussed them out and took off."
Watterson said when he was notified, he called the Newton County Sheriff's Office to make a report and information, including the truck's tag number, was turned over to them.
Watterson said he estimates he's had a total of somewhere between 200 and 300 signs stolen and said they cost approximately $5 each.
"I know signs don't vote, but people have made donations to my campaign to buy these signs and there's other ways to beat your opponent. I was very disappointed," he said.
The Sheriff's Office opened an investigation into the matter.
"Through some leads and information we were able to locate these two individuals and effect an arrest," Mitchell said, adding that investigators are still trying to ascertain a motive for the thefts.
The other two candidates running for Newton County sheriff report thefts of campaign signs, as well.
Incumbent candidate Sheriff Ezell Brown said he's only had a few signs that he can verify stolen from his campaign.
"I've had several stolen. I've never made an issue out of it. These are things that happen during a campaign. As late as yesterday afternoon I had one that was missing at Floyd Street and 278 and on Wednesday I noticed a sign between midnight and 1 a.m., but by morning the sign was gone. Maybe we've had half a dozen if not a dozen stolen," Brown said.
Candidate Philip Bradford estimates he's had approximately 100 stolen.
"I'm looking into possibly who's going around doing it. A lot of times, what I've found in my job, is it will be kids doing it for pranks, but sometimes it is people who are doing it maliciously," Bradford said. "If I find out that it's people taking my signs maliciously, then I'm going to file a report and push it."
He said what he's been able to do so far is when people tell him their sign has been stolen, he'll go back out and replace it as soon as possible.
"If you take it one night, then I'll have another one back the next day. I don't have time in my campaign to focus on negative energy."
Bradford said worse than the cost of the signs was the loss of time it takes to put up 100 signs.
"You would think if people know what the consequences are, which we've seen in our own community, for doing things like that, it would deter them," Bradford said.