School board candidates are using cameras to catch campaign sign thief

“If you are out there looking to take our signs, smile, because you will be on camera.”

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A couple of school board candidates are fighting back following a series of campaign signs being stolen. This is happening in Clay County where both board members Janice Kerekes and Tina Bullock – who are political allies -- have had several campaign signs stolen.

The Kerekes campaign installed cameras and trackers on the signs and that has led to a police investigation.

RELATED: Clay County voters to decide 3 races for school board

The incident that attracted the attention of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office happened Saturday when a sign was stolen in the Keystone Heights area around County Road 315C and Long Pond Drive. The investigative report says the campaigns had permission from the property owner to place the signs there. And a man in a truck was recorded on the campaign’s hidden camera stealing them. “Just know if you’re out there looking to take our signs… smile because you will be on camera,” said Janice Kerekes who’s the District 1 School Board Member up for re-election.

School board candidate Janice Kerekes puts camera & tracker on campaign signs (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

In addition to a hidden camera the campaign attached Apple Air-Tags to signs they knew might be stolen and they got an alert on their phones that one of the signs was on the move. “We had one on Saturday that we literally saw on the move. Could see where it was going and thanks to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for a very quick response. They have gone to that person’s residence and they have issued a warrant it’s an active investigation,” said Kerekes.

Both Bullock and Kerekes said they have each had more than a dozen signs stolen during this campaign.

“It’s sad it’s very disheartening. I guess people don’t realize that this is theft,” said Bullock who is also up for re-election.

Deputies tracked the man to a nearby property and confronted him where they found the missing signs. When confronted the report reads he “repeatedly stated the signs were garbage and he did not commit a crime.” It goes on that he “was irate during the entire interaction and stated I needed to find robbers and murderers instead of dealing with him picking up garbage.”

Location where school board candidate's campaign sign was taken (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

There is an active warrant in the process in this case. As of this writing the man has not been charged.

News4JAX reached out to multiple other campaigns in the race who all say they don’t support stealing signs. The man who’s under investigation did not indicate any political motivations to investigators.

About the Author:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.