A week after anti-levy campaign signs were found burning in a pile near Hoover Reservoir, resident Pete Wilms offered a $1,000 reward for tips leading to the arrest of those who steal any campaign signs - pro- or anti-levy.

A week after anti-levy campaign signs were found burning in a pile near Hoover Reservoir, resident Pete Wilms offered a $1,000 reward for tips leading to the arrest of those who steal any campaign signs - pro- or anti-levy.

After the announcement of Wilms' reward Feb. 23, 18 more anti-levy signs were stolen, prompting residents to donate more money toward a reward fund.

Now, $5,000 is being offered to anyone with a tip to help catch sign thieves.

"My reward will go to a tip that results in a conviction of anyone stealing signs; I don't care if they're pro or con," Wilms said. "I'm not addressing this as a pro- or anti-levy thing."

Jim Burgess, a representative of the anti-levy group Taxpayers for Westerville Schools, said he estimates that about 50 signs were stolen and burned at Hoover reservoir, and more than 100 of their 500 signs have been stolen altogether.

For the fall election, Burgess said the anti-levy campaign saw about 25 percent of its signs stolen.

As with any election, the pro-levy Our Community, Our Schools campaign is seeing its signs stolen as well, said campaign co-chairman Rick Bannister.

"Our signs are disappearing, as well. We're not accusing anyone. We're just replacing them," Bannister said. "This is what happens when there's this much passion in the community."

Wilms said he believes the community should crack down on the sign thefts, as they are damaging to the democratic process and to the community.

"Sign theft interferes with the democratic notion of a free electoral process and the rights of all citizens to express their freedom of speech," he added. "This kind of behavior is an embarrassment to our fine community."