Thefts drive E. Wichita homeowners to put electric fence around ‘Vote Yes’ sign
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - An east Wichita home is catching attention with a literal shocking expression on a polarizing issue. The homeowners say what they did was a final effort to keep people from stealing the signs from their yard.
In Robert and Denise Clarke’s front yard, there’s an electric fence surrounding two “Vote Yes,” signs, expressing their support for the Value Them Both Amendment to be considered on ballots in the upcoming Aug. 2 Kansas primary elections. The homeowners say this comes after a group twice stole their signs. They’re hoping the fence prevents theft from happening a third time.
“We built our own sign because signs weren’t available, and we built it large enough and sturdy enough that people couldn’t readily just steal it. And then we had to protect it,” Robert said. “That’s the part that’s catching people’s attention, ‘that’s electrified?’ It’s because we feel like we’ve been violated.”
On June 24, a group of girls were caught on the Clarke’s surveillance cameras, stealing signs.
“When they were first taken, I thought, ‘well, gosh, it’s a teenage prank,’ kind of upsetting,’” Robert said.
So, the Clarkes replaced their signs, only to have them stolen a second time last Friday, July 22.
Over the weekend, the Clarkes built their three-foot-by-five-foot sign and put a fence around it usually used to keep wildlife away. The Clarkes told their neighbors so no pets or people would accidentally get hurt.
“These are the nicest people. They’re not wanting to cause harm to anybody. They just want their voice to be heard, too,” said neighbor Ronnie Dunn. “Unfortunately, he was driven to that point where they had to be protected like that.”
The Clarkes said they hope the girls who stole their signs understand they broke the law, but the couple isn’t calling for arrests.
“I don’t want anyone thrown in jail. I think they just need to be taught a lesson from mom and dad,” Robert said.
While the street on which the Clarke’s live has several “Vote No” signs, the Clarke’s signs stand out more for what’s around them than their opposing view on the proposed amendment.
“I respect your right to a sign in your yard. I may not agree with you, but you should respect my right to express myself and put a sign in my yard,” Robert said.
Robert said he emailed Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple concerning the vandalism and on Thursday, July 28, he received a response.
The mayor also shared a public statement on Twitter.
“This week, the @CityofWichita has received reports of vandalism, from yard signs to public swimming pools. I ask that as a community, we respect the property of others and work to show the world that the people of Wichita look out for each other and respect our neighbors,” Whipple wrote.
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