Thursday May 11, 2017

Pennsylvania man builds giant rat trap to stop election sign thieves

Joseph Kowalchick built a human-sized rat trap to deter would-be thieves from stealing his campaign signs.

Joseph Kowalchick built a human-sized rat trap to deter would-be thieves from stealing his campaign signs. (Joseph Kowalchick/Facebook)

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It's not the first story As It Happens has done about election-campaign lawn-sign theft or vandalism. But it may be one of the oddest.

Joseph Kowalchick is running for local office in Norwegian Township, Penn. But when his election lawn-signs started disappearing, he took matters into his own hands. In an effort to stop the thieves, Kowalchick built a very big "rat trap."

As It Happens host Carol Off called up Kowalchick to find out more about his ingenious trap.

Carol Off: Joseph, can you describe your rat trap?

Joseph Kowalchick: It's about seven feet long. It's made out of two-by-sixes, two-inch steel pipe and I also have coil springs from the front end of a car on it.

CO: In all respects it looks like a rat trap, except it's ginormous. 

JK: Yes and it doesn't work. It doesn't function.

CO: Why did you make it?

JK: We have a big problem of political yard signs being stolen. Right now, one candidate actually had 50 signs and he is down to 10. Myself, I had 16 stolen in one night. I thought I'm losing out on advertisement for my campaign. I thought how could I turn a negative into a positive and I created this trap to get some publicity.

CO: So is it just a message or do you think people might actually suspect that if they took that sign they'd be snapped?

JK: No, you could tell once you get close to it that it's welded and not going to do anything.

CO: What's to prevent it from being stolen?

JK: It weighs roughly, maybe, 250 pounds to 275 pounds. 

CO: Okay, that would do it and it's welded to it so there's no way you can take that lawn sign without the trap.

JK: Right, you can't take the sign out. It's actually too heavy. It wouldn't even fit in the back of a pickup. 

CO: But you might be tempting someone. I mean it would be quite the collector's item.

JK: I will let something out of the bag here — I put a stake in the ground. I hammered in a three foot stake into the ground and there's a chain connected to the bottom of it. Nobody is going to steal it.

CO: So you've thought of everything then?

JK: Kind of, I mean it's a bad problem. It's a bad problem that happens everywhere.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Joseph Kowalchick.