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In the Westside L.A. council race, it's 'lights, cameras and an armload of campaign signs'

February 19, 2009 |  2:49 pm

Election_sig_8Who is the mystery sign stealer in the District 5 Los Angeles City Council race?

That’s the hot topic today in the Westside district where six candidates are seeking to replace Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss in the March 3 election.

One of those candidates, neighborhood council member David T. Vahedi, said he grew tired of seeing more than 400 lawn signs disappear from the yards of his supporters. So he asked a friend to put a camera outside a home in Rancho Park, where two lawn signs have disappeared in recent weeks.

The videos above and on the next page are the result, according to Vahedi and his supporters.

“One of the greatest things about our country is that, as a democracy, we can state our support for candidates and issues,” he said. “And the people’s right to do that shouldn’t be vandalized away.”

Vahedi said he has lost $1,600 worth of lawn signs so far in the campaign, most of them in Beverlywood, Cheviot Hills and part of Westwood. And he has heard from other supporters who described themselves as witnesses to sign theft.

Attorney Shannon Burns said she was heading home from work on Tuesday night and spotted a woman walking on Tennessee Avenue with a handful of crumpled up Vahedi signs. Burns said she tried to do “the Nancy Drew thing” by trying to follow the woman and take her picture. “Because it was dark, I got the back of nothing,” she said.

Once she got home, Burns sent out an e-mail warning to her neighbors, giving an extraordinarily detailed description of her suspect -- and her suspect’s fashion choices.

“The woman is caucasian, in her late 40's to early 50's; mid-length thick mousy brown/dirty brown hair with a slight wave, average build, approximately 5'5" wearing dark slacks and a knee length, light grey wool walking coat with faux belt and two back buttons (similar to last year's Anne Klein model),” Burns wrote.

A week earlier, hardwood floor installer Jeff Hronek said he too saw a woman with a Vahedi lawn sign. “At first I thought she was replacing my old sign with a new sign,” he said. “And then I realized she had stolen my sign.”

Hronek said the woman he spotted is the same one who was caught on camera this week. “I saw the video. I saw the two stills, and that was her. It was definitely her,” he said.

-- David Zahniser