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VOTE 2010: Campaign signs vandalized as races heat up

READ MORE: Campaign signs vandalized as races heat up
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The Congressional race between Mike McIntyre and Ilario Pantano has gotten so nasty people are actually stealing private property. For the second time, Matt DiGioia's giant Pantano sign has been taken from his commercial property.

Surveillance video shows a man stealing the 40 by 96-inch sign and casually walking away with it Tuesday. DiGioia put a camera up on the corner of his property after the sign was taken the first time a couple weeks ago.

"This can't be tolerated," DiGioia said. "I think it's really a violation of my rights to some degree. You know, First Amendment. If this is the candidate that I would like to show my allegiance to, then someone shouldn't come on my property and take my personal property and essentially trespass and steal at the same time.">

DiGioia hopes someone will recognize the man in the video and turn him in.

"I really think it's kind of an act of desperation," he said. "People have the feeling that this is a very critical election, and this is a criminal act. So I think it's another reason to get away from politics as usual and put some new blood in Congress."

This is not the only race where signs have become collateral damage.

"Unfortunately we've lost a lot of civility, and I think that's disappointing to all of us who think that bipartisanship is to be embraced," said Deborah Butler, a Democrat running for New Hanover County Commission. "I think we all need to learn how to be respectful and responsible."

Butler has to replace about 10 of her campaign signs that were stolen from Porter's Neck Road.

"It's just absolutely sophomoric and childish and unacceptable in my opinion," she said.

DiGioia sent the surveillance video to the Sheriff's Office, and he says it is investigating.

Pantano's campaign is not the only victim in the congressional race. Earlier this month, Pantano had to ask his supporters to stop vandalizing signs supporting incumbent Mike McIntyre.

Candidates say these signs are not cheap. The big ones can run a couple hundred dollars each.

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