The Pine Cone's sixth story of the week

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'For sale' sign vandal hurts the little guys, victim says


Published: November 21, 2008

WHATEVER THE culprit’s motivation for repeatedly knocking down realtors’ signs all over the Monterey Peninsula, Pacific Grove resident Vicki Dwyer says he isn’t achieving anything other than wasting time, money, energy and resources.

“It’s so infantile,” said Dwyer, who with her husband, Patrick, runs a company that makes posts and installs real-estate signs. “And it’s not green.”

During the Halloween weekend, close to five dozen posts in Carmel Valley, Los Laureles Grade and Pebble Beach were yanked from the ground, according to Dwyer, who fielded calls from many agents requesting the signs be re-erected. She said the vandalism has been occurring once a month for the past half year.

“They’re clustered, maybe where this guy gets mad, for whatever reason,” she said. The culprit also seems to avoid hitting signs right in front of people’s houses, perhaps because of concern he might get caught.

“And it seems to be the same person, because the way he does it is the same,” Dwyer observed. “He pulls the post out — he’s pretty strong, I think.” The vandal then hurls it, with the sign still attached, down on the ground, sometimes over the side of the road or down an embankment.
The Dwyers charge $18 to reinstall the signs, unless one client has several down in the same area, in which case the fee drops to $8 per sign.

“We would just go broke if we tried to do it without payment, so we just can’t,” she said. “But these agents are already struggling, so it’s an extra burden on them.”

If the post is damaged or missing, it costs the client $25 to $50, depending on how old it was. Dwyer said the tab covers the cost of buying the lumber, cutting it, carving the company logo into it and painting it.

And if the sign itself is missing or damaged beyond repair, and the realtor is self-employed, has custom-made signs or works for a small company that does not provide signs, that person can be out of pocket another $100 to have a new one made, she said.

Although Dwyer has not seen the vandal at work, she said two clients reported seeing a black Hummer driven by a large man with blonde hair who might be responsible.

Lin Eldridge, a Carmel Valley realtor whose signs have been repeatedly vandalized, said last week he is considering offering a reward for information leading to the capture of the culprit.

But Dwyer hopes logic will ultimately prevail and that the man will simply stop destroying other people’s property.

“Maybe he has his house for sale, or maybe he had a run-in with a bad agent, or maybe he just doesn’t like the signs being up,” she said. “But it’s illegal. He’s not hurting big companies — he’s hurting individuals who are already hurting. Maybe he will come to his senses.”