Local political candidate hopes new clues will solve costly mystery

Posted at 10:44 PM, Oct 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-13 01:44:51-04

A local city council candidate hopes a new surveillance video will help solve a frustrating 4-month mystery.

Alexandria Lowry, who lives at Carlton Oaks Drive and West Hills Parkway, noticed on Sunday that one of her yard signs had vanished.

The sign is one backing Stephen Houlahan, a registered nurse and one of three Santee council candidates vying for one spot.

When she looked at her surveillance video, there it was.

Just after noon Saturday, a truck parked in the turn lane.  A passenger gets out, runs across the street and grabs the yard sign, before running back.  Meanwhile, another vehicle has to go around the truck while the theft is unfolding.

“For a grown man to do that, what are your morals?” asked Lowry.

The sight of the adult thief also shocked Houlahan, who was expecting to see a teen performing a prank.

Houlahan has had a sign problem since his campaign kicked off in June. Almost immediately his signs across the city started disappearing.

Some 50 signs are missing from supporter's yards.At one home, a thief visited four different times, grabbing seven signs.

“It could  be dirty politics but it’s also an illegal act.  It’s really a sad thing, and it’s sad politics has come to this,” said Lowry.

Houlahan says each sign counts.  At $6 or $7 each, he's only been able to afford to pass out a few hundred.

“It's a grass roots campaign with a limited budget,” said Houlahan.

Houlahan isn't making any specific accusations, but is calling on his opponents to encourage supporters – not to grab signs.

“I expect we all try to run a clean race,” said Houlahan.

HouIahan’s two opponents issued statements in response to Houlahan’s words.

“I have spoken to Stephen personally in the past about this issue we are both having.  I have had approximately over 100 signs stolen in this campaign myself.  I absolutely urge all supporters or citizens to respect other people’s signs and personal property,” said Dustin Trotter.

"It's completely unacceptable to steal another candidates campaign signs. Earlier today I received a call that another one of my signs had gone missing from a front yard. It's very frustrating. Whoever is engaging in this behavior needs to be held accountable,” said Mason Herron.

If you have any information on this case, call the Santee sheriff's substation.