It begins continues. Dirty tricks in Ohio.

If you can’t beat ’em, NAB ‘EM!

Perrysburg police arrested four Toledo area men early Friday morning on charges of stealing Mitt Romney campaign signs in Wood and Lucas counties in Northwest Ohio.

The signs were found in a pickup truck owned by Sheet Metal Workers International, Union Local 33 in Parma, according to the police report.

Many of the signs — some measuring as large as 4 feet by 8 feet — were believed to have been put up by members of Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition, said John McAvoy, the group’s president.

Stories of political signs going “missing” in the final days of an election are as old as the invention of yard signs. This one, of course, has the bonus goodness of having the signs show up in a truck operated by one of the labor unions, pretty much satisfying every stereotype we see in the news. During the 2010 campaign I asked one of the delivery guys who worked for the company making our yard signs if they typically saw a lot of big replacement orders in October. He told me that it was the rule rather than the exception, and quipped jokingly (I hope) that sign thieves probably accounted for a significant portion of their business before sales died off for the following four months.

But technology and the ubiquitous nature of cell phones are making more and more sign thieves think twice. (Or at least they should.) Here’s video shot by one guy last month who simply couldn’t figure out why his Mitt Romney yard signs kept disappearing. He found the answer.

One parting thought on this subject. I know criminals are generally expected to be dumb, but have none of them realized the self-defeating nature of these actions? Most campaigns expect that people picking up yard signs to display at their homes will kick in a contribution to help cover the costs. And angry, ripped off people are even more likely to donate just to get their point across. Every time you steal a yard sign, you’re probably just putting more money in the opponent’s campaign coffers, stupid.

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