A local protester was the victim of some backlash last weekend when some Taos motorists began stealing his signs from the side of the road.
Taos Police Chief Kenneth Koch told The Taos News Tuesday (March 5) that local protester Jeff Northrup had many of his signs stolen both Saturday (March 2) and Sunday (March 3).
Koch said the incident was first reported Saturday around 7 p.m., when Northrup reported and eyewitnesses saw a man in a pickup truck collecting Northrup’s some 15 signs from Paseo del Pueblo Sur.
“It sounds like Mr. Northrup left the signs and an individual pulled up in a truck and began throwing the signs in the back,” Koch said.
A witness reported the truck’s license plate number to the police and Koch said officers were still investigating the theft.
The same evening, Northrup also complained to police that a few signs appeared in front of Casa los Córdovas restaurant with slogans such as “Jeff find a hobby” and “Jeff sore loser, felon, obsessed.”
“Mr. Northrup stated he was concerned about the sign that stated he was a crook and a felon,” the incident report reads. “I advised Mr. Northrup the signs put up by the other party were not committing any crimes.”
The report did not specify who put up the signs.
The problem began again Sunday, but this time Koch said Northrup witnessed men in a pick up truck taking nine signs for the side of the road and left the scene.
Officers later pulled the truck over and cited the three occupants for larceny, but Koch said the issue will be referred to a judge for review.
“We need a competent authority on whether this is a crime or not,” Koch said.
The problem is that the three men found with Northrup’s signs contested that because Northrup’s signs are set up in a public right-of-way, anyone could remove them.
“Their counter argument was that they were in the public right-of-way, they considered them litter and saw their actions as performing a public service,” Koch said.
Koch said the case would likely be reviewed in Taos Municipal Court.