This is not something I'm actually doing or thinking about doing; I'm just curious about this slightly absurd hypothetical scenario.

Suppose that I get really mad at those signs people stick in their lawns that say something like "Elect $(DEMOCRAT) for Congress" or "$(SOCCER_MOM) for School Board" or similar. If I were to uproot them and hide them nearby out of sight, what crimes would I be charged with, assuming the following?

  • I don't steal the signs, I just hide them somewhere nearby that's out of sight (maybe under a pile of leaves or behind a tree).
  • I don't deface or vandalize the signs, though depending on where I hide them they could still be damaged by the elements.
  • Make no assumptions about where the signs originally are except that they're publicly visible (usually on someone's front lawn or on the side of the road).
  • I don't discriminate by politician, political party, or office.
  • Let's pretend I asked this question three months ago while election season was in full swing.
  • I take video of myself hiding the sign, but I don't post it online; I hold onto it until it's time for court.
  • I'm in New York State.
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    The critical question is where the signs are placed. Often, signs are placed on public land, and often contrary to local ordinances. In those cases, you are simply a volunteer clearing litter and there is no offense. If on private land you are trespassing and engaged in de minimis damaging of signs since some effort goes into placing them and are probably guilty of a petty offense or two of criminal mischief and trespassing. – ohwilleke Nov 16 '16 at 18:04
  • @ohwilleke If you just hide them nearby, you aren't "clearing litter"; at best you're moving litter from one place to another. – D M Feb 24 '18 at 0:51

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