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Arrests made in thefts of controversial campaign signs

CARLSBAD — Two people have been arrested for stealing nearly two dozen campaign signs supporting Proposition 8, an initiative to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California, from Carlsbad Streets, police said.
A week after campaign signs were allowed to be posted along city roadways, Kimberly Erlenwein, 28, was arrested for stealing “Yes on 8” signs from Carlsbad Village Drive on the morning of Oct. 23. Police said they found 11 campaign signs in Erlenwein’s vehicle. She admitted to taking other “Yes on 8” signs from around the city.
The following day, 31-year-old Carlsbad resident Vernon Tisdall was caught removing pro-Proposition 8 campaign signs from in front of the Olympic Resort on El Camino Real in Carlsbad. Tisdall had 11 campaigns signs in his possession, police said.
Both Tisdall and Erlenwein were cited and released with a single count each of misdemeanor petty theft, Lynn Diamond, a spokeswoman for the Carlsbad Police Department, said. The charge can carry a penalty of a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
Carlsbad police are currently investigating two other incidents from Oct. 24 involving thefts of “Yes on 8” campaign signs, Diamond said.
No relationship between the defendants and the No on Proposition 8 campaign has been established, Diamond said. Further, she said there’s been no evidence to link the individuals arrested for stealing the campaign signs.
With less than a week before the election, the battle over Proposition 8, a controversial initiative that if passed would bar same-sex marriage from California’s Constitution, continues to be a hot topic for San Diego voters.
Corri Planck, a representative for the San Diego Chapter of the “No on 8” campaign, said her group has also had signs stolen, defaced, destroyed and replaced. “It’s obviously a heated issue; people have strong feelings on both sides. It’s unfortunate that it happens … but it’s not part of our campaign.”
She said Tisdall and Erlenwein weren’t affiliated with her campaign.
In Carlsbad, Paul Packard, a local supporter of the initiative, said in northern Carlsbad alone his campaign has lost approximately 470 of the 550 signs they’ve placed.
“I think that we’ve had over 90 percent of our signs taken,” Packard said. “That doesn’t seem like politics as normal.”
Packard urged people to “remain civil and obey the law.”
The Oceanside Police Department and Encinitas Sheriff’s Station are the only other law enforcement agencies in North County to have reports of pro-Proposition 8 sign thefts. Oceanside police said they’ve taken one report of a “Yes on 8” sign theft, while Sgt. Justin White of the Encinitas Sheriff’s Station, said over the last four days they’ve been getting one to two reports a day with the most notable being a homeowner who had their “Yes on 8” sign lit on fire and thrown at their house. Neither agency has made any arrests relating to the incidents.