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Coakley volunteers say Brown backers stole yard signs

Posted by Your Town  January 17, 2010 03:14 PM

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Recent polls indicate that Republican US Senate hopeful Scott Brown has stolen a bit of Democratic nominee Martha Coakley's thunder. Now Coakley volunteers are accusing Brown supporters of stealing her campaign signs, too.

About a dozen Coakley lawn signs disappeared in Wellesley and Needham last week, according to police reports.

Wellesley Police received seven reports of Coakley sign thefts but no complaints of Brown sign thefts, according to Lieutenant Marie Cleary.

She said the town has seen these incidents before during "contentious elections."

"Sometimes with a thing like this a few days might go by before residents actually call," Cleary said. "If people become aware [of thefts] it may prompt more [calls]."

Needham Police Sergeant Matt Forbes said about six reports came in yesterday.

"I'm not sure if they're all Coakley," he said.

A Brown campaign spokesman declined to comment when contacted by the Globe on Sunday.

Coakley spokesman Corey Welford said the campaign has seen worse than simple theft.

"We've even had reports of Brown supporters stealing Coakley signs and burning them," Welford said, adding that at least one arson report came out of Hyannis. Barnstable police there said there were no reports of an arrest.

Needham resident Harmony Wu, a Coakley volunteer, said at least six Coakley signs disappeared overnight, but the Brown signs remain in full view.

"Look, it's not the most important thing in the world, but it's just the nastiness and dirty tricks that we're not used to seeing in our town," Wu said.

Asked if she believed Brown supporters stole the signs, Wu said, "Absolutely."

Wellesley resident David Himmelberger, a Coakley volunteer and former town selectman, said both of his lawn signs disappeared some time before 5 p.m. yesterday.

"Historically it's been kids who will take all the [campaign] signs," Himmelberger said. "But the Brown signs have been uniquely left alone."

Himmelberger said Brown supporters have resorted to an "antidemocratic" tactic by stealing signs.

"I don't have a problem with people disagreeing with me," he said. "But I do think there's a lot of negativity and demonization going on [in the election]. It's unfortunate."

Two new Coakley signs arrived at his home on Sunday morning.

"We'll see how long those last," he said.

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