Winter Springs police: Campaign sign-stealing culprit caught

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

The culprit who has been making campaign signs disappear from the yard of Winter Springs Commissioner Avery Smith has been found.

Smith's hidden camera caught Pete Tabler, a 75-year-old retired officer, yanking campaign signs off her private property.

Tabler is now facing theft charges.

"He took it upon himself to do this. He is wrong," Smith said.

The commissioner said more than a hundred of her signs have been pulled up, stolen or tossed aside. It went on for six weeks – until she installed her camera.

When police showed the video to Tabler, he told them he'd been pulling the signs because he thought they were in the public right of way.

He later told police he was taking out his anger because the signs seemed to be everywhere.

"Call your local code enforcement, call the owner of the property – don't just take it upon yourself to take something that doesn't belong to you," Smith said.

Tabler was not home when WFTV stopped by.

Police said tampering with the signs is a crime taken seriously. They plan to arrest Tabler once they get the OK from the state attorney's office.

Smith said Tabler was given six weeks to stop the sign-pulling, but he didn't.

"I'm prosecuting this guy, I don't care at this point," Smith said.

Stealing campaign signs is a misdemeanor that could carry a fine of up to $1,000 and even jail time.

Police said it is unlikely Tabler will get jail time.