Man caught taking down political signs

October 15, 2012 8:16:35 PM PDT
A local candidate became frustrated when his campaign signs were repeatedly stolen. So, he resorted to a creative approach to find out who was behind the crime. However, what he discovered was an unlikely culprit.

Watt Jones is running for the North Carolina House of Representatives in District 40. For weeks he and his supporters have been busy putting up signs. But at one location, just outside Wake Forest, he noticed his signs kept disappearing.

"I talked to a friend about it and he offered to loan me a wildlife camera," said Jones. "So, I went the next day and chained it to a post."

Within 24 hours, the camera captured photos of a man taking the signs and placing them in the trunk of his car.

"I could see the individual and see the back of his car and part of the license plate number," said Jones. "So, I reported it to the sheriff's department."

Then, Jones put up another sign and, when he drove by the next day, he noticed a car matching the one from his pictures parked in a gravel drive.

"So, I went up the road and turned around and came back, and he was leaving and my sign was gone," said Jones. "So, I followed him and asked him about it."

As it turned out, it was the same man caught on camera, 69-year-old Samuel Blackwell. ABC11 spoke to him but he declined to go on camera. He did say off camera that he was simply picking up trash. He said his neighborhood, the Waterfall Plantation, sponsors that stretch of road. Blackwell even showed a Waterfall Plantation vest he was wearing when he went out to remove the signs that he saw as eyesores.

Jones hasn't been back to the location to replace his signs yet but he says he is planning on it, and this time he hopes they'll be here to stay.

As for Blackwell, he apologized to Jones, and said he didn't realize he was breaking the law when he removed the signs. However, he has been cited for taking the signs, which is a misdemeanor crime.

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