Ad Exec Arrested For Removing Illegal Roadside Advertisements

from the please-explain dept

It’s no secret that we live in an age of aggressive (and perhaps excessive) advertising. Advertising is absolutely everywhere — and apparently one ad exec got fed up. He discovered one of those “street side” signs that advertisers stick into the ground alongside roads on his own property. He removed it and then began removing many more. He called up local authorities who told him that it was illegal to place those signs on private property or on public property, but said they didn’t have the resources to go around removing them. That seemed like an opportunity, so he began removing them — sometimes calling the companies advertised in the signs to offer his services as an ad exec to provide more effective, less annoying, advertisements (not surprisingly, none have taken him up on the offer). However, for some reason, he’s now been arrested for theft over the signs. It’s not clear if the article is leaving out some sort of detail or what, but it’s hard to see how removing an illegal advertising sign should be considered theft.

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Comments on “Ad Exec Arrested For Removing Illegal Roadside Advertisements”

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Chris says:


Well, I know that a roofing company in my neighborhood decided to place those signs on every freakin street corner till you leave the city (I live about 20 blocks from the edge) and I have been going around pulling them up because they get on my nerves (no to mention what they would do if ernesto hits us) and I have yet to be arrested. I guese I can just sit back and wait for the cops to come and break down the door

Your Friendly CA Cop says:

A private citizen does not have the right to remove and dispose of those signs since they’re not on his private property. Law enforcement does, but his rights stopped once he moved on to the rest of town. So yes, this is theft. If I were at the department I could also sit down and get creative to find a law he may have violated by offering his own services in place of the ads that he stole from property not of his own.

CA Cop says:

Re: Re: Re:

Good dialogue Mr. Coward, you win the special Gold Star.

One should look at the positive aspects that this case will entail. It brings to light a problem the City or County officials have ignored and is raising awareness. The community will bring this issue to the front burner and cause official action against the people that are placing these signs in the first place. That’s the way the process works. Now, official action may be enacted.

Mr. Decker will probably end up with the least possible fine, pending Judges discretion, which will most likely be paid by his supporters.

As to why he was arrested despite his arrangements for surrender. The local PD may have believed it would be in the public interest to bring him in before the rally was held that could have led to an unruly gathering.

Concerned Citizen says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

CA Cop, I think you missed Anonymous Coward’s point. When police officers “get creative” with the law they’re no longer just law enforcers – they’ve taken it upon themselves to be legislator and enforcer. Fortunately, there’s a third check in the system, judges, who often dismiss cases where the law enforcement officer got creative with the law but it still sets a bad example and unlawfully becomes a hassle for the innocent vicitm. I think this is Anonymous Cowards’s point.

Luci says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Actually you have missed the point. What Mr Decker did is, in point of fact, illegal, since the signs were not on his property, or the public right of way attatched to his property. The police were not acting as legislator, though enforcer is entirely their job. They are there to enforce the law, which is precisely what they did. If the company placing the signs called and said someone was taking them, then that is theft, even if they are being illegally placed. You do not have to give identifying information when you call in a crime, either, so this could have been done anonymously, like our Cowards.

The point of this thread is, in fact, that Haywood is one of those people who believes that all cops are just out to get HIM, probably because of some defiiciency or because he actually believes that he should always be in the right no matter what he does, which makes him a pointless little troll who should go bash somewhere else.

Lucille Fox

NOT Law Enforcement, just Disaster Relief and Emergency Services

Tree Cop says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Selective enforcement

Placement of them would require a complaint by the land/property owner against the placer for trespass. No complaint = No violation

The signs would have to be a violation of a city ordinance to be themselves a violation, but then that would be a violation of an ordinance, which while enforcable by officers, most cities have ‘Code Enforcment’ to do such tasks, so no LE actions would be required, or even expected as it would not be part of their job to enforce that, otherwise why have a code enforcement office?

Concerned Citizen says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

No, Lucille, in fact, you completely missed the point. My comment clearly related to CA Cop’s statement of “get creative to find a law he may have violated by offering his own services in place of the ads” NOT the ad exec getting arrested in the first place. Although now that I think about it some more I guess CA Cop is really taking the role of judge, since his “getting creative” really amounts to law interpretation, which is what judges do. So he’s still overstepping his bounds and doing more than simple law enforcement – and that’s just not right and is possibly a major reason people sometimes have problems with cop behavior.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Police are in Law enforcement…we are not. The name says it: LAW ENFORCEMENT. Just because something is illegal does not give citizens the right to change it. That’s what police are there for. We have no authority when we step outside of our property. If citizens could do a policeman’s job, we would all be cops. Leave the policing to the proper authorities. Having said that, I disagree with the ruling. But that gives us no right to assume anything about the cops. Perhaps some details were left out of the story that would justify the arrest. Perhaps not. Either way, put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

claire rand says:

Re: Re: Re:

heard of one guy who did something similar with a wheel clamp.

aparently if you cut them off they get you for criminal damage, and if you just disapear they get you for theft. so he removed it without damaging it, and turned it in as ‘lost property’

apparently he got away with it.

i would have thought if this guy pulled up all the signs he could find and turned them in along the lines of ‘I found all these in my garden, what do i do with them?’ then its up to the ad company to *prove* he pulled them up. it mearly being obvious ain’t enough, its ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

as for the cops enforcing it.. wellll yes its technically their job, and lets face it its an *advert* finding out who its an ad for should not be hard, but frankly I can think of a lot of other stuff I’d rather the cops were actually doing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If you go and read the full article you’ll see that he was offering his advertising services for free. Though it may indeed be theft I wonder how it looks to the public that a citizen was arrested doing what the police department admitted it should have been doing, but just didnt have the assets to complete?

Wizard Prang (user link) says:

Re: Questions, questions...

If someone places, a sign on your property without your permission, can they still assert ownership? If not, against whom was the theft committed?

How many of the landowners had a problem with him removing signs from their property? Did any one actually protest?

If he had asked for and received permission from them before removing signs would that make a difference? Hmmm… now there’s an idea…

Finally… I wonder who actually pressed charges and what damage was done.

Sheesh…. we are fast heading for a world where you need permission and legal disclaimers before helping a stranded motorist change a tire.

chucklebutte says:

Re: Re:

asshole cop!

“I could also sit down and get creative to find a law he may have violated by offering his own services in place of the ads that he stole from property not of his own”

how bout i get creative and eat your children?? that sound fun i hope your family gets cancer and they all die first and u die last and slow and painful you god damn son of a bitch

all cops need to be shot and killed they are a waste of tax payers money they make citizens feel like criminals and just the blantent arrogance from this prick leave people alone id remove bullshit signs too lets go fill up your yard and nieghborhood with shit mr cop see how u like it eh? oh yeah you wouldnt would ya? how bout i pull u over and harrass u eh? put you in some handcuffs arrest u? u lame piece of shit

Luci says:

Re: Re: Re:

How about you put that on your bumper, sometime? Let the world know what you think about cops? You’d find rather quickly that you do, in fact need them. Not everyone has the inclination or resources to own a gun, and sometimes it’s just better to have those pretty blue uniforms on the street as deterrance. What did you do that made them pull you over, harrass and arrest you? Oh, wait, you didn’t do anything did you? Because even if you did, you wouldn’t be man enough to admit to it, so it’s all the fault of the police.

Stop trolling, people.

A Non-e-mouse says:

Re: Re:

“A private citizen does not have the right to remove and dispose of those signs since they’re not on his private property.”

BS. It’s not legal property, it’s littering. I see people all the time going in groups to remove litter. This is the same as dropping trash on the street corner. If someone left a stereo laying on the corner (as in never planned to return and claim it), it’s not theft for someone to either take or throw it away.

Why? Because it’s no longer private property. You can’t steal what nobody no longer owns. Now, it IS illegal to remove signs from someone else’s property, because its on their property. But if it is out in public, and obviously not owned by the city, well… tough luck. And also, many organizations are sponsors of the roadway, who are responsible for picking it up. They also certainly have the right to remove anything long that road.

Don’t start telling me now that we need a right to pick up litter now. Anal retentive city councils and lawyers need to get the advertising picket stick out of their butts. First, a city council acts and shuts down that kid for an illegal sign, and everyone goes nuts about overstepping their bounds, then some private citizen tries to curb the problem, and everyone goes nuts again.

I’d like to go to the houses of those who have raised big stinks over these two, and 1″ outside their property, put thousands of signs of every size up.

Don’t touch them, you’ll be a thief!

CLF says:

Re: Friendly Cop

Wow. You certainly well serve the folks who pay you well.. thinking of creative ways of punishing those insideous sign bandits: outlaws boldly removing illegal eyesores, littering our lives in their sacred task of promoting hoaxes and swindles. Serve and protect. Keep up that thin blue line. While other officers waste their time hunting muggers and meth labs, you maintain your priorities. Serve and protect. Wow.

R Ahrens says:

if they weren't returned

If he just threw the signs away and didn’t return them to the owning companies, then, yes, he could charged with theft. If he returned them, intact, then, maybe he could be charged with something else, but if he removed them and just disposed of them, that would explain the theft charges.

A defense against the theft charges would be proof that he returned them to the owners.

Ro says:

Re: if they weren't returned

Any sign placed illegally in an area will come under most city ordinances. Generally this means confiscation of the item and destruction after 30 days. Most Cities allow private watch groups to perform these functions. Also there is a fine usually associated with erecting illegal signs in violation of such an ordinance.

jaygerwolf says:

Good Samaritan

Since he did call “up local authorities who told him that it was illegal to place those signs on private property or on public property, but said they didn’t have the resources to go around removing them” he took it upon himself to act is that not what a good samaritan does. As a matter of fact if you look up the definitions of good samaritan on the Web you find it is listed as ‘a person who voluntarily offers to help.’ Now all the other stuff about offering his service was not such a good idea, but at least he was taking a pro active approach to the problem of “street spam”.

Lester Crowe says:

I do not get it

Those signs can be annoying, however small businesses are fighting an uphill battle to compete in most markets. Guerrilla marketing efforts are sometimes the only answer for highly competitive environments. Legalities aside, can you blame a company for attempting to make money?

p.s. CA Cop seems to be getting bashed, however he only stated facts…..guess all cops are the same – they know the law. Guess all you flamers are also the same.

Wizard Prang (user link) says:

Re: Guerilla marketing? Hardly.

If the signs were on public property, you might have a leg to stand on… but putting up signage on private property is a form of trespassing, at best, and theft at worst.

It’s sad when Good Citizens have to do Law Enforcement’s job for them because LE does not have the resources. Perhaps that’s the way it should be.

I guess the question is this: What kind of a world do we want to live in?

Stewed says:

Sure, Why not.

Cops are useless. It is set up that the city/county/state makes money by using the police to police certain things. It is in the best budget interests of the police department to give out tickets and harrass the more law abiding citizens. Going after hard core criminals is expensive and slow and difficult. Going after people who didnt signla while changing a lane when no other car is in sight is easy and creates revenue. This guy will get fined and get off. Not cause they dont want to punnish him, but because that is what keeps local government cash happy. If a cop spent all his time going after hard core criminals and did not write a single ticket for 3 months he would get canned. Cops protect the department and other cops. Just another out of control union thing.

Marty says:

Those frikin signs

I am a sign maker and as such I try my hardest to stear my customers away from those things. Unfortunatly they are the cheapest thing any of us can produce for them and that is all the customer can see. They fail to see the value in other forms of advertising, those coroplast signs have virtually none. They are vastly ignored simply by overuse and not many people are going to stop on a street corner to write down the info.

In my county they are not lawfull to place just anywhere except on your own private property. We have a little witch in her code enforcement truck that will pick them up whenever she sees them (except of course the ones for the politicians). She will take them in and have citations issued for the companies using them and destroy them. It is not legal for just anyone to remove them as that does constitute theft of private property but a county representative has full authority.

Any way you look at it, those signs suck and I for one hate making them.

jinx says:

Re: Those frikin signs

Ummm… Unless I am missing something, why don’t you stop making those signs if they bother you so much. Oh right, it’s the American way to preach out against something, yet continue to do it if it helps their bottom line. Maybe its time to stand up even a little bit and do something to help, god forbid you lose some money doing something you believe in.

If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

This guy is no "Good Samaritan"

1. He took down the signs, then offered his services to the advertisers as an “Ad Executive” to show them how to do things right. How would he feel if while off doing his public service (stealing), someone had dropped by his house, robbed it and left a note offering their services to install a burgular alarm?

2. Regarding outrage at the police had time to arrest him, but not to find the people who illegally posted the signs, well duh, he called the police and more or less announced his intentions to commit a petty theft. Not exactly the cracking of the Lindbergh kidnapping to arrest him.

3. regarding all the posters who are spewing venom at the police who are DOING THEIR JOBS, please put the following in your windshield: “Dear Police, yopu all suck, and I don’t want or need any help from you, so go away.”

Then drive your car at top speed into the nearest bridge abutment or overpass (so you only hurt yourself) and lay there, refusing the protection of the law to the end, and raise the average IQ of the human race a fraction of a percent.

KF says:

Re: Re: This guy is no "Good Samaritan"

I meant to say, in refence to:

Dear Police, you all suck, and I don’t want or need any help from you, so go away.

If he put that on his windshield, he wouldn’t make it ten feet before he got pulled over for something anyway so there is no worry of speeding. The cops would find a good reason, perhaps a broken tail light?

Sanguine Dream says:

Well if they were illegal

I’d pressure the local police as to why they weren’t taken down. They were too busy to take the signs down but had plenty of time to spare to come out and arrest him right? Now lets just sit back and wait for the companies whose signs he took down to sue him for copyright/trademark/patenet infringement. No it doesn’t fall under either one of those but everyone else is suing for that these days so why not?

Monarch says:

Re: Well if they were illegal

Sanguine Dream, if the signs were attached with some kind of DRM’d electronic tacks, the company may have a way to sue the guy under the DMCA.

On a 2nd note, I’ve never met a cop that protected the general public and citizens. I’ve only met ones that harrass the general public and citizens.

Retired Va Cop says:

Re: Re: Well if they were illegal

1st Note – Monarch, if you keep meeting cops that put you at the buisness end of thier pen, you must be doing something wrong all the time.

2nd Note – Police only enforce the laws…don’t like it? Well, get involved in getting the law changed, vote, talk to your city council, state reps, Congressman, etc…don’t come to Techdirt and bitch. Cuz then you are just a spineless pussy* with out a voice.

* – Technical Police term there, FYI

r0cksinp0ckets says:

The world is a dangerous place, not because of tho

Self justified economics of existence…Bureaucracy!!!

Bureaucrats.. Law & Legal Stupidity… Apathy, Indifference


Educated, Appropriate, Socially and Environmentally Responsible action, that positively contributed to society by the improvement of the environment that we as citizens all share.. done with good intention, without the need for monetary compensation…



At least he had the balls to stand up for good!


government by many bureaus, administrators, and PETTY officials.

An administrative SYSTEM in WHICH THE NEED for inclination TO FOLLOW rigid or complex procedures IMPEDES EFFECTIVE ACTION.. innovative ideas that get bogged down in red tape and bureaucracy.

Anonymous Coward says:

I agree that he should not have taken it upon himself to remove signs that were not on his personal property, unless of course he had the consent of the owners of the respective properties (preferably in writing, which will hold up in court). However, I do understand and respect the motive. Advertising companies don’t seem to understand the concept of self-retraint these days and they seem to get away with just about anything anymore.

As for the police, lack of resources? Please. To take down all the illegal signs, yes, there are not enough resources. BUT, that would be foolish because they’re not attacking the source of the problem. Companies that put up signs like that should be slapped with a court order to cease and desist and remove all illegal signs, lest they become the subject of a lawsuit with a strong case against them. There are way to deal with people who abuse the system. These companies need to learn that they have to follow the rules just like anybody else.

Now, just for the record, does that mean all types of advertising are illegal? Of course not. Once in a while I get something slid under my apartment door or hung on the door handle. Yes, it’s annoying, but illegal, no, not as long as they don’t enter my rented property without my permission and they don’t use my property to advertise to others. Using one’s private property to advertise to people other than the property owners is not only illegal, but also a very bad example of business ethics, or simply lack thereof.

So I say, go ahead, give the guy a slap on the wrist for his slipup, but don’t treat the guy like a convicted felon just because he tried to stand up for us little guys in the battle against extremely excessive advertising. Advertising is meant to make your product or service known to people. It was never meant to cram junk down your throat that nobody ever wants or needs, which is exactly what things like spam do.

Anonymous Coward says:

ahh…i feel i must put in my 2 digital pennies..

yes, cops are law enforcers, not protectors. 9 times out of ten they are there to catch those who break the law, not prevent them from breaking the law. the public believes that cops are protectors instead of enforcers, and yes i’ve made that same mistake on numerous occasions.

second, cops must make good use of their time. as with any job, ceretain tasks need to be completed, and others can be pushed aside until the next day. so, sure cops may not go after all murder suspects and instead focus on traffic violators. but think about it. who causes more harm to a community, one murderer, or hundereds of drivers? sure the family and friends of the murder victim have their pain, but every day there accidents caused by people running stop signs, going through red lights, speeding and driving drunk. immagine if no one ever got a ticket for any driving infractions. could you imagine how dangerous the streets would become? I’d be scared to live in a house next an intersection.

now, i’m not saying that the cops should just lurk behinde everey dark alley looking for the one guy at 3 in the morning coasting through a stop sign, but they are probably checking to see if he’s drunk, and hopefully keep him from hurting anyone else. (ok, so that’s a situation where the cops are in the protection business, but they arrested him AFTER he was driving drunk, not before he started…remember minority report and precrime?)

anyway, it sucks that someone trying to do good was arrested, but he broke the law. if he “pays” for his crime is another story. there are cases where people who “restrained” suspects for police where charged with either kidnapping or unlawful imprisonment, while others were given awards for their bravery and assistance to the force. I just wish that we had enough public servants so the public wouldn’t have to do these things.

Lay Person says:

Re: Re:


O.K. so cops are only enforcers sort of like Storm Troopers. Once a law is broken they come in with phazers blazing. That’s the image I have of an enforcer.

If this is so, then why do all cop cars have written on tboth sides, in big, bold, letters “To Protect and Serve”????

Perhaps soemthing has changed? Maybe the motto is “To Enforce” and they have yet to change the lettering?

Tree Cop says:

Every once in a while

Every once in a while, one of these topics takes on a mind of its own and runs off on some interesting tangents. Usually, it is someone’s personal agenda to bash another persons agenda; however, with this topic is has gone to COP bashing, and a slew of illogical and illiterate stereotyping of an out of date image of COPS. Jesus you mind numb, meth. heads, get with the times and realize that if your going to use stereotypical slurs, at least use more modern versions, which reflect a progression of time and technology. Notice that I don’t refer to anyone in an old time worn, and most out of date, fashion as ‘pot heads’, ‘reefer head’, ‘dope smoker’, ‘gonja sucker’ or any of an entire line up of stand-by references used in the past, for any group of inarticulate, illiterate, anti-government type who blame his/her problems on an enforcement element of the society they live within, instead of blaming their own lack or short comings and trying to take personal actions to improve themselves so as to no longer have such feelings of inadequacy.

Don’t accuse police of “eating doughnuts” and “sticking guns in peoples faces”, those are antiquities and out of fashion now days. Now it is more accurate to accuse us of wanting to “taser you tell your eyes light up” or “only eating where COP discounts are offered”, which while not as quick ‘witted’ or easy to pull off in a jestful moment, they do reflect a more realistic image now days. Doughnuts? Please, when was the last time a doughnut shop offered a COP a discount for anything but the coffee, get real. Subway, Quizno’s, Slotzskis now there are some places you’ll find a few patrol cars in this town. Oh, but that is boring right?

As for the original topic however, I only saw one person mention the reality of the situation, and personally I would have arrested the man as well, as by law I would have had no chance. Mind you, what is not mentioned is how he was arrested….. Most likely and what I have seen before. The offending company filed a complaint about their signs being missing, the first response of police was “they were illegal signs by city ordinance, so he was just picking up trash.” At which time a smart small business man will concede and go over to the code enforcement office of the city, usually located close to the city tax/treasure office, pay the fine for each offending sign. Then walk back to the Police station and show they have paid restitution for the violation of City code, at which time they have an official document showing the signs to be their private property and not trash. And then they file a complaint of theft of private property, relating the phone call they received by the now accused subject. Police have to follow up on such complaint and call the subject in, who is told a complaint has been made against him relating to the signs, when he opens his mouth to say “yea I removed them” he is told to remain silent, the cop rolls his eyes and explains his Miranda rights to him, then tells him to get a lawyer and let the judge handle it, because it is a stupid use of the system, but there is nothing that can be done to help him by the police. And at that point in time, he has been arrested and charges have been filed, he hasn’t been charged tell the D.A. takes up the filed charges.

The city is happy because it got its fine money; the illegal advertiser gets to stick a finger in the eye of the guy who got pissed by the signs. And the COPS go to lunch and tell local state trooper “I wish I had your job” which of course they wouldn’t want, but don’t even know it, because that relates even more irrational and illiterately applied use of law and codes.

Lay Person says:

Re: Every once in a while


O.K. people. See the arrogance of this guy? I don’t know if he’s a real cop but he sure defends them as one.

Later on he calls a coworker “brother” as though he belongs to an exclusive family, an organization, insiders and outsiders. He’s inside, we’re on the outside.

His own use of language creates a division between us and them. Then they wonder why their jobs are so tough and that they get no respect.

The police force needs to higher people with diplomatic skills. I think their screening system is poor. How else do these Yosemite Sams get to be cops? Cops work for society and not for the government. Sure they want us to believe that they are the government by hiding behind clauses, forms, and procedures. In reality, they are elected by citizens to protect citizens. Somehow this is all lost in procedure. Since the cops can’t realize anything beyond procedure, they lose the fact as to who are their real employers.

Anyway, if this guy is a cop, he’s a poor example of one.

Anonymous Coward says:

Reply to #46

yes, they say “To serve and to protect” but there is no reference to whom they are to serve and protect. no tsatp John Q. Public, or TSATP “citizen’s name here”, or anything.

it can be argued that tye are protecting the laws of the land. by arresting the viloators, they “prove” the laws exist. otherwise, it’d be just a waste of paper for all the laws.

they are serving the constitution/laws as well. until a law is broken, they don’t have a job. it sucks, but hey, i don’t want to be arrested for a crime i didn’t commit. but there are laws against planning to commit crimes, and then by default you are arrested for the attempted crime, but not the actual crime. so once again, they are arresting people AFTER laws are broken.

and like i mentioned, without some qualifier as to who the slogan refers to, it’s an abstract saying.

having a few friends as cops, they all said that their partner/trainers said….the real duty of a cop isn’t to enforce the laws, arrest people, chase mudrers and whatnot….it’s more simply to “solve problems”

so…..that’s my rantings

Motopsycho says:

and this is the main reason I don’t do much in the way of good deeds anymore.

It’s much easier to avoid a lawsuit by not helping people. It seems to be what society wants anyway.

It’s cynical, but true. When you see someone who needs help, in the cities at least – if you make a mistake or something while trying to help, you’ll either end up with a lawsuit or dead. Hell with that, I’ll let you call the cops for help. That’s what they’re supposed to be for, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Speaking of CA, my father did the same thing and went about removing and disposing of illegaly placed signs. He even contacted the city attorney to check if this action was permissible, which it was. However he is the mayor, and therefor an agent of the city, so not sure if this gives him certian privelages over the ordinary citizen. Regardless the point still stand that the actions of the companies are illegal. The only problem is that these companies know they almost never see any legal ramifications for their actions, as the cost of going to court outweighs the convience of doing so. Anyway just my 2c if you see these signs, or get a flyer or whatever, call up the company get the name of the owner, and if they’re stupid enoug they’ve listed themselves in the phone book. Go to their private residence and flood their yard with an equaly aggitating amass of crap. Or just toilet paper, because it’s still vandilisim no matter how astheticly appleaing your POS sign might be.

jsnbase says:

Citizens *can't* enforce law?

“Just because something is illegal does not give citizens the right to change it. That’s what police are there for. We have no authority when we step outside of our property. If citizens could do a policeman’s job, we would all be cops.”

This is the sort of thing I see too much of on internet forums. You may be right, but perhaps you could post some sort of legal basis for your claim? If it’s just your personal philosophy, then you’re probably wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

I was once arrested by a police officer for removing a sheriff re-election sign posted on my own private property. Apparently removing litter from your own property is illegal.

This has become such a problem especially for convenience stores and gas stations who are prohibited by law from removing signs off their properties on major street corners. If someone “litters” on their property they are required to contact the local governing authority, register a complaint, wait 2 to 4 weeks for someone to show up and remove the signs. If you do it yourself then you could be looking at 6 months in jail and a $2500 fine.

Matt Ridings (user link) says:

Had to be via a complaint

As far as I can tell the only way he would have been charged with anything would be if one of the other property owners filed a complaint against him, not the company who put the signs there.

Likely one of the property owners had a relationship with the company, or simply didn’t like the fact that someone came and took something out of their own yard without their permission.

All of this hatred towards the police on this issue is a bit rediculous when you consider the above.

Tree Cop says:

Lay Person


Thank you for the well spoken retort and comments. While I don’t agree with you, I won’t disagree with you entirely either. It is the bases of my job and my nature to listen to both sides of matters, yet to do so it does help when matters are presented in an articulate manner.

You say I don’t work for government, I work for the society. Well in this country, the government is supposed to represent society, thus why we have elected officials and laws are put in place through elective selection. Thus I work for the government. The society upon which that government has bases is responsible for taking action to have laws placed in the books upon which they then expect me to enforce and monitor. I don’t agree with all laws upon those books, yet that isn’t my part of the process to decide upon which I will and won’t enforce.

As for the Brotherhood I mention, you are correct, it is a selective mentality shared by those within Law Enforcement, just as it was when I was active duty as a volunteer for my nations military. I was then and am now, part of a group of like minded people who give up some of our rights and privilege in order to give something to the community to which we serve. If that doesn’t create a brotherhood mindset, then I don’t know much more that will. While it is easy to point at such a mindset and say it is separating and creating an “us and them” syndrome, I don’t believe it divides us from the society around us, but it does by nature have aspects I would not expect the average citizen to have to accept or involve themselves in. Most should not have to hold a dead child’s body for a long slow boat ride back to the shoreline, where the family is only hoping she is alive, or make that call at 2am that ‘there has been an accident’. That is my job and the job of others like me, if you would like it, then apply and after a year try to say you aren’t part of a brotherhood.

While I work for the government ultimately. I am evaluated everyday by the citizens around me; it is the responsibility of such citizens to grade me upon my job performance by speaking up if they find need. All to often however, such never happens, as people don’t realize the power of their word in matters of evaluating public servants (police, fire, ems, sanitation, animal control, code enforcement, district attorney, judges, mayors, city council members and many others) in that speaking out against wrong doings, or even speaking up about good deeds, is a very powerful tool. I personally have only once had a serious accusation levied against me, but when you try to run me over with a car I do have a tendency to become “reactionary” and throw things through your windshield if they are in my hand.

And finally, to respond to your first sentence. YES I am an arrogant S.O.B., but I assure you, that has nothing to do with my job. It is simply my nature, and when I’m working with the citizens in my community, such often times has to be laid aside, as does ego and sometimes even aspects of pride and pleasure, such is the nature of being able to deal with a variety of the community, instead of one specific dynamic.

Again, thank you for the articulate response, at least we share that view of how to deal with other people.

Good day.

Anonymous Coward says:

to #73

well, if i called the cops and said someoen stole my signs, what are they going to do? they aren’t going to sent out a CSU to every site i had signs posted hoping for evidence. their resources are better suited in other areas such as rapes/murders GTA, kidnappings…things of that sort

however, when someone calles the police force, and states they broke the law, they are required to arrest them. the only wasted time would be if a cop went to pick the guy up. if he was on patrol…hey, part of the job.

still the distinction between the illegal activities here is quite amazing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: to #73

I’m not buying into the whole “their resources are better suited in other areas” argument. Most police forces already have resources in those areas in the form of detectives, accident specialists, and so on. Either cops enforce all laws, or we eliminate the laws that we think the cops should not enforce or don’t have the supposed resource to enforce. Recall that New York cleaned up a number of areas of the city because they told officers to go after petty crimes.

doubledoh says:

I don’t know the details of the story either, but given the summary:

1. The cops stepped outside of their bounds when they arrested someone for removing litter for free from other people’s properties UNLESS the property owners themselves called the cops to report tresspassing.

2. There was no theft. The advertiser gave away rights to the advertisements when he littered people’s properties with them.

3. Cops need to spend their time catching murderers, rapists, and politicians. This is yet another example of a misallocation of taxpayers’ money.

another coward says:

CA cop is wrong

Citizens have more legal right to enforce laws than a police officer does. A citizen only needs to have reasonable suspicion that a crime is taking place to take action while a cop needs probable cause. He should have learned this in law class. As a ‘former’ officer…a citizen arrest is a useful thing to keep a suspect while a case is built to try the suspect. In this case he had reasonable suspicion that the signs were illegal….I cannot possibly see this guy getting even a fine for taking it upon himself to correct the matter.

Anonymous Coward says:

to #79

laws are eliminated if we think cops should not enforce them?

how about this….in PA, if you are driving a car, and come across a horse and carrage, you must completely pull your car off the lane and let the hosre pass. if the horse gets spooked, you must disassemble your car and hide it behinde the nearest shrub.

i don’t think that law has been enforced in quite some time, yet it’s still on the books.

what about those other laws saying you can’t walk donw the street with an icecream cone in your left hand on sundays, or other “stupid” laws. they aren’t enforced, yet they are still “laws” i thought you said those laws are eliminated.

since they have been on the books for years, an no ATTEMPT to eliminat them, your argument is quite flawed

Joshua says:

Cops losing rights and privledges...

Someone mentioned that as a cop they have to give up some rights so that they can protect and serve. This is just not true. At least not directly. Cops do indeed voluntarily give up certain rights, but they do so to gain a different set of rights.

For instance, I don’t have the right to arrest someone if they don’t let me into their house (even if later it is found to be an illegal search, at the time, the person is hindering the police in the execution of their ‘duty’). I don’t even have the right to stop an assault on my person if the officer says he is arresting me. Police lose some rights but they gain the right to be above normal citizens where the law is concerned. If you become a police officer you lose rights and gain power. It’s a fair trade. Stop treating it like some burden you carry.

I also dislike the myth that the police enforce the laws of the land. They don’t. It is not possible for them to know all of the law (not even just the criminal code). That’s why people who’s job it is to actually *know* the law (like lawyers and judges) still need to keep stacks of books containing laws and interpretations of them.

The fact that there are laws that are on the books that are never enforced just goes to prove that police officers do not ‘enforce the law regardless of whether it is bad or not’ (note: that is not a direct quote). They enforce the ones that they feel like enforcing that day. They didn’t feel like taking the signs down and fining the people who put them up, but did feel like arresting the guy who did their job for them. My guess is that they didn’t pick up the signs because it would be tedious and time consuming, but they arrested the guy who removed them because it’s just one guy (and not many many signs) and he made them look bad.

Haywood says:

I actually have little contact with cops, I also have little contact with snakes. I attribute that to God knowing and honoring my prefrences. They are tax collectors who do some emergency service, but protect and serve is a joke.

I do own a gun, I don’t expect to be protected or served.

I have tried with them, but they seem to have a problem with enforcing when it would be to my benefit. I had my car a victim of hit and run in a grocery store parking lot, and had a license number, they located the driver but failed to enforce.

A good friend had his car hit and run by an out of control street racer in his own carport, again he had information to lead them to the suspect. He was informed that since it happened on private property he was on his own.

I have other instances but most will get the point; They are useless except at lining the pockets of the government body that employs them

r0cksinp0ckets says:

How many of you voted.... for this law? for this?

A man is punished for removing illegally placed advertising??? SAD!

First he Improves the environment we all share..

Then he offers his services as an altertenative to recurrence. – Proactive Prevention.

His intent…His actions.. are for the betterment of our environment.. positive contribution to society without immediate monetary reward

The placement of the sign is illegal. Pay a fee.. then it becomes illegal to remove the sign.. Police then nab the guy so “the government” can collect more money..


Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves.

Albert Einstein

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. Albert Einstein

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