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Friday, August 11, 2006

Portsmouth Herald Local News: Sign bandit plans rally for his arrest

By Karen Dandurant / kdandurant@seacoastonline.com

STRATHAM -- John Decker hopes a lot of people will come to his pre-arrest rally.

Decker will be charged at 3:30 p.m. this Saturday with theft by unauthorized taking, a misdemeanor. So, he decided to hold a rally for his cause at 3 p.m., in the parking lot of the Portsmouth police station.

A member of the Leftist Marching Band, he hopes to be able to provide entertainment, but is also looking for a show of support.

Decker became a local hero of sorts last month after he admitted he was making it his cause to rid the Seacoast of hand-written roadside signs advertising things such as hot tub sales and yard work services.

Decker said, since it's illegal to place the signs on public property, it's his right to remove them as litter. One sign owner disagreed and went to Portsmouth police after Decker "acquired" his sign.

Continued...to "Read More" click link below

CONTINUED:

The owner declined to comment on the ongoing saga.

Decker, who was away on vacation, said police called him on Wednesday.

"I was called by Officer (Andre) Wassouf, who told me there was a warrant out for my arrest," said Decker, who was reached by phone. "He wasn't going to be on duty again until Saturday, so I agreed to meet with him. He told me to bring $30."

Detective Sgt. Michael Ronchi confirmed that there is an arrest warrant out for Decker.

"I had a thought," said Decker. "Say I am arrested, there is a trial and I am convicted; if I am assigned to do community service, maybe cleaning away roadside litter, what do I do if I come to one of the signs?"

Decker, whose business is marketing, said he's made two phone calls to the sign owner, and a friend has made another.

"I called to say -- if you want to make it go away, I'd be happy to show you other ways to advertise and I wouldn't charge you anything. I have got everyone I can convince taking down the signs because that's simply what we do now."

In earlier interviews, Decker said getting arrested is what he wants, as a way to bring as much public attention to the cause as he can.

Decker's popularity grew from a Herald story and a forum on SeacoastConnects.com. Many people weighed in, and as of Tuesday, the story had an unprecedented 24,000 Web hits and had been picked up by media across the country.

"I would like to have someone bring legislation to the state to tighten up enforcement of the law that already says it's illegal to put the signs up," said Decker. "I called the Highway Department, and they said they don't have the manpower to enforce the law."

Decker said he plans to talk with state legislators about the "littering" problem.
SOURCE:
Portsmouth Herald Local News: Sign bandit plans rally for his arrest

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