Calgary

After stealing 160 signs, thief IDs himself by calling mayoral candidate to brag

Signs being vandalized or stolen is a common problem for political candidates. But it's not often someone readily admits to the theft.

Jyoti Gondek's campaign has filed a report with police

Signs from mayoral candidate Jyoti Gondek are seen prior to being set up in May. More than 160 of Gondek's signs have been stolen, but Gondek's campaign manager says the culprit has (perhaps inadvertently) identified himself. (Jyoti Gondek/Facebook)

Signs being vandalized or stolen is a common problem for political candidates.

But it's not often someone readily admits to the theft.

More than 160 signs for online events organized by Jyoti Gondek's mayoral campaign disappeared from streets in Wards 13 and 14 last week.

The signs were worth around $3,000.

Shortly after, Gondek's team noticed a voicemail — in which the caller fessed up.

"Message to Jyoti Gondek, all of your election campaign signs are illegal. We are picking them up and taking them to the dump," the caller said, commenting in a later call that Gondek was a "disgrace" to "her kind."

"Someone picked up the telephone and was kind enough to identify himself," said Stephen Carter, Gondek's campaign manager.

"I've been around campaigns for a long time … I've never seen signs get removed and the person who did it picked up the phone to call us and say this is what I've done and I'm going to keep doing it."

It turns out the caller was known to the campaign — because he'd signed up to volunteer, leaving his full name and contact information.

"I suspect they weren't actually going to be a volunteer, but because they provided us all of their contact information … it was relatively easy to find out who it was," Carter said. 

"It's very kind when people pick up the phone and confess to the crime, it makes it a lot easier for everyone."

Information about the thefts and the identity of the caller have been handed over to Calgary police.

Campaign signs are allowed only during the election period, but the caller's claim was untrue. Signs like Gondek's are allowed under the bylaw if they promote events such as online town halls and are moved or removed within 14 days. 

With files from Scott Dippel

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