Lawrence resident Julie Jasperson is worried the rash of thefts are a sign of what's to come.
The Democrat estimated Tuesday that 20 Kerry/Edwards signs have been heisted from yards in her northwest Lawrence neighborhood in recent days. And the thefts brought back memories of the 2000 election.
"They've stolen our future, and now they've stolen my signs, and I don't like it," Jasperson said.
It happens every election season: One candidate's supporters take down or destroy another candidate's signs. But it may be worse this year, as a divisive presidential campaign widens the gulf between parties.
Republicans said they were experiencing the same problems.
"We've had several people pick up signs from us and then come back shortly afterward to replace them," said Richard Todd, treasurer for the Douglas County Republican Party.
To replace the signs stolen from her yard, Jasperson resorted to making her own signs. One reads, "Republicans stole our sign," Another proclaims, "Republicans steal our signs and our future."
Marilyn Greathouse, chairwoman of the Douglas County Democratic Party, said sign thievery was stretching across the county.
"After the second debate, Baldwin had a real rush," she said. "The signs have been going really fast. They have been a really hot item."
They also were disappearing from the west Lawrence neighborhood of Hilda Enoch, who said her Kerry/Edwards signs disappeared Thursday night.
"This is not a cute prank done by kids. It's people that are deliberate and are trying to silence the opposition," Enoch said. "This is the first time in at least 10 years that I've had a problem with it."
But Todd said he thought sign theft was to be expected.
"I think it's something that happens in every four-year cycle for president," he said. "It's just the way it is."
According to the Douglas County District Attorney's office, people caught damaging or stealing yard signs can be charged with either criminal damage or theft, both misdemeanors. The maximum penalty for criminal damage is up to six months in jail and a fine. The maximum penalty for theft is up to a year in jail and a fine.