Garden gnome alert: 400 missing in Austria

A leading Austrian political party has issued a garden gnome alert after 400 of its figurines disappeared from lamp posts used in campaigning.

Austrian political party issues a garden gnome alert

Garden gnomes have become iconic symbols around the world used to sell anything from travel packages to political parties. (Markus Schreiber/Associated Press)

A leading Austrian political party has issued a garden gnome alert after 400 of its figurines disappeared from lamp posts used in campaigning.                

Placed by the Socialist Party ahead of elections in western Austria, the gnomes were hung three meters from the ground — presumably in part to prevent mass pilfering.

But a party statement Monday said that 400 gnomes, valued at around $4,000, had gone missing over the weekend.

A garden gnome is seen in a flower pot - a possible hiding spot for the missing Austrian figurines. (Sang Tan/Associated Press)
The party suspects the heists were less outright theft and more dirty electioneering, accusing the rival conservative People's Party of being behind the disappearances. 

It notes that some of the gnomes have been replaced by People's Party posters.

The People's Party denies involvement in the gnome scandal.