As It Happens

Pennsylvania man builds giant rat trap to stop election sign thieves

Joseph Kowalchick is running for local office in his Pennsylvania township. But he is sick and tired of having his election signs stolen, so he set-up a giant "rat trap" to keep the thieves away.
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.


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