Click photo to enlarge
Janine Giambalvo of York Township says she has had some John McCain campaign signs stolen from her yard. Similar thefts have been reported across York County. (Claudette Roulo Photo)
Janine Giambalvo wants people to know she supports John McCain as this country's next president, so she placed a McCain sign in her yard.

But someone who apparently thinks McCain should lose has taken matters into his own hands.

Giambalvo's sign was stolen sometime last Wednesday from her home in York Township's Marlborough West neighborhood. And police said hers is not the only one.

Police from three local departments said residents have reported a number of McCain sign thefts from the York area, numbering about 17 at this point.

Giambalvo said she is disgusted that someone would stifle her rights over differing political beliefs.

"I respect everyone's opinion," she said. "I should be able to express mine and not be punished for it."

Giambalvo said the theft spree is more than just a prank -- it's a crime.

"They're breaking the law. They're trespassing and they're stealing something that doesn't belong to them," she said. "And they're infringing on our right of free speech."

'Concerted effort': A. Carville "Peck" Foster, chairman of York County's Republican Party, said he's recently seen a "surge" in the number of McCain supporters complaining that signs had been taken.

"There's definitely been a concerted effort in some areas" to steal or vandalize signs, he said. Foster said some theft victims also had their homes hit with eggs.

Foster said he hasn't heard of political signs for any other Republican candidates being stolen or vandalized.


York County Democra-
tic Party Chairman Michael Johnson said he was unaware of the spree and "obviously" doesn't support it.

"We strongly encourage people participating in these types of activities to stop it," he said. "We condemn this type of activity."

If the thief or thieves think stealing McCain signs is somehow helping Sen. Barack Obama, they're mistaken, he said.

Adults to blame? Springettsbury Township Police Lt. Scott Laird said thefts of political signs "happen from time to time during elections," but said recent reports have only been for McCain signs.

"I really don't think it's kids, to be quite frank with you," he said, because youths wouldn't be that particular about the kinds of signs they took.

In Springettsbury Township, five people reported McCain signs stolen. Three of those victims had their homes egged, according to Laird. In one incident, an Obama sign was left behind.

Those incidents happened on Eastern Boulevard, Candle Wyck Court, Wynwood Road, South Royal Street and Cortleigh Drive. In a sixth incident, a Kingston Road home was egged by someone who left behind a homemade Obama sign, Laird said.

York Area Regional Police Sgt. Rod Varner said officers took a report about a McCain sign theft on Sept. 23 in the Blossom Hill area of York Township. Police also were notified of an Oct. 7 political-sign theft on Kent Drive in York Township.

Related? Spring Garden Township Police Chief George Swartz said his department received nine complaints of stolen McCain signs between Sept. 20 and the first week of October. In one incident, an Obama sign was left behind.

The thefts happened on Strathcona Drive, Ogontz Street, and Grantley, Hillcrest, Crestlyn, Glendale, Southern and Leeds roads.

People with information about the thefts are asked to call their local police departments, or reach an officer through 911.

-- Reach Elizabeth Evans at levans@yorkdis or 505-5429.