STRAHAM, N.H. - The self-described "Sign Bandit" is back. This time, he's not just throwing away the temporary roadside signs he calls ugly and unsafe. Instead, John Decker is putting bright orange stickers on them and branding them litter.
"As an advertising person, it bothers me," said Decker, a Stratham advertising executive who wants all the signs stripped from roadways. "There are legal, legitimate ways to advertise and more creative ways, but that's simply a really disgusting way to advertise. It's just ugly."
Decker has long been known for taking the temporary signs he sees while driving. But after being arrested twice last August for stealing the signs, he had to come up with another tactic to express his disapproval: 3-by-8 inch stickers.
"What he is doing is what they are doing," said state Rep. Jim Splaine, who introduced a bill that would make advertising subject to state litter laws. "He is littering their signs with his stickers as a payback. It's not defacing them. It's letting people know — as well as the distributor — that this is litter."
Decker said the only option is a law.
"I'd just be happy if the top three or four offenders in New Hampshire stop doing it. But apparently they're not," he said. "So we have to create a law, then the attorney general has to issue an injunction, and then they are going to have to fine them."
Some business leaders aren't convinced.
"I think the whole thing is sickening," said Kevin Slover of Universal Hot Tub and Furniture, whose business first sparked Decker's frustration with the signs. Decker said a temporary sign placed in his front yard from that company started his quest.
"I wish he would spend more time putting his cause to something that is worthwhile," Slover said.
Another thing I would ask everyone is this - what obligation do you have as the homeowner to keep that sign in your yard? If someone sticks the sign in your yard and you don't want it, it's gone, right? It's your yard!
My neighborhood has a bazillion garage sales every summer, and these signs are EVERYWHERE in the neighborhood from April to October. I guess the people who put them up get permission to put them up all the time? Also, there's this big grassy median where they put a ton of these things up. That's public ground I guess, so I wonder again what the law says about that. I gather they don't get permission from the city to put those up.
I don't like the signs from the professional marketing companies and when I see 20 of them in a four-block stretch I've thought about pulling them out sometimes too. But I've never gone as far as this guy.
Here's a pic of the "bandit" in action: