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Campaign sign thefts attributed to a prank, target practice

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Sheriff's Office has learned that mischief is apparently the motivating factor in the recent thefts of campaign signs.

Two arrests were made June 22 in conjunction with the complaint filed by sheriff's candidate Bill Watterson on Thursday night, June 21. He reported that two of his supporters had witnessed two men, driving a white pickup truck, pick up Watterson signs and toss them in the back of the truck. The couple chased the truck down and confronted the individuals, noting other signs in their vehicle as well.

The next night, according to NCSO spokesman 1st Lt. Mark Mitchell, NCSO deputies arrested Anthony Trevor Cunard, 18, of 20 Alcovy Reserve Way, and Kyle Parker Boehm, 19, of 20 Yancey Road, and charged them with theft by taking in connection with the incident.

"Philip Bradford called and let us know he had had some signs taken and gave us some additional information. The Sheriff's Office took that along with some strong suspect leads we were working on at the time and were able to effect the arrests. It's been determined the motive for taking the signs was a prank," Mitchell said.

Among the signs recovered were those from candidates Jared Rutberg, Levie Maddox, Marcello Banes, Ezell Brown, Stephanie Lindsey, John Ott, John Strauss, Wesley Dowdy, Philip Bradford and Bill Watterson, according to Mitchell. Also, there were signs from Starrsville United Methodist Church's Vacation Bible School, Sheryl Fambrough, a Walton County candidate, and Rails to Trails.

"We are in the process of contacting candidates to let them know about their signs," Mitchell said.

Also, a deputy apparently caught two men red-handed as they allegedly pulled up a Philip Bradford sign out of the ground in front of the BP gas station on Ga. Highway 11 near Interstate 20 Sunday morning around 9:30.

Arrested and charged with theft by taking were Daniel H. James Jr., 50, of 2056 Bent Creek Manor, Alpharetta, and Conner Mitchell Johnson, 17, of 2190 Black Heath Trace, Alpharetta.

"After interviewing the suspects, it was claimed they were taking the sign for 'target practice.' The sign was returned to its original spot and the two suspects were arrested ... "