Digital Trackers Used To Catch & Arrest Pro-OUSD Recall Activists For Stealing Anti-Recall Campaign Signs

By:OCI Staff

Several activists in the teachers union-fueled campaign to recall two conservative members of the Orange Unified School District OUSD) Board of Education were arrested last week for stealing campaign signs urging voters to oppose the recall.  The pro-recall campaigners were caught red-handed with the stolen signs in their garages or side yards, after initially denying they had engaged in sign stealing.

This Tuesday, March 5, OUSD will vote yes-or-no on whether to recall OUSD Trustees Madison Miner and Rick Ledesma. Ledesma has served on the Board since the early 1990s, and Miner was elected in November 2022. The recall is being spearheaded by the Orange Unified Education Association, the local teachers union and an affiliate of the California Teachers Association, one of the most powerful special interests in the state.

Although the union’s ostensible rationale was the OUSD Board majority’s decision to exercise their right to terminate the district superintendent, the real reason is the Board majority’s general support for charter schools, attention to curriculum and elevating the rights of parents. Opposition to charter schools is a core tent of teacher union political action.

OUSD includes the Orange, Villa Park, Anaheim Hills and portions of Garden Grove and Santa Ana.

The culprits were caught after OUSD Trustee Madison Miner – one of the recall targets – noticed that hundreds of anti-recall campaign signs had been stolen. She attached digital trackers to several campaign signs and then placed them in locations where “No Recall” signs had frequently gone missing.

Miner estimates as many as 400 “No on the Recall” signs had gone missing since January 1.

Miner knew from her successful 2022 school board campaign that campaign signs are often inadvertently placed on public right of ways, where city code enforcement officials will remove and impound them.

She visited the city lots in Orange, Villa Park and Anaheim – where the signs were going missing – and was told no recall campaign signs had been impounded.

Another possible explanation of at least some missing signs: removal by homeowners associations, of which there are quite a few in the Anaheim Hills portion of the school district.  

However, Miner noted that in such locations, only “No on Recall” campaign signs went missing while “Yes on the Recall” signs were untouched. This became a pattern that replicated itself over and over: “No on Recall” going missing from location where “Yes on Recall” signs went untouched – at sites where it is legal to place campaign signs.

All of this combined to suggest the most likely explanation: recall proponents were doing the stealing.

Earlier this month, Miner came up with a novel solution to the issue: plant digital tracking devices on campaign signs.

The strategy quickly bore fruit. Some of the tracked signs were stolen within 24 hours. Using the digital trackers, Miner was able to determine the location of stolen signs. She followed a protocol: when the location of a missing sign was determined, Miner would arrive at the address with a friend or family member, get within range of the track and trigger the pinging function. Invariably, they could hear pinging from the garage. or side yard. Miner would call the police, wait for them to arrive and then knock on the front door and inquire about the missing signs.

In each case, the suspect initially denied having stolen any signs – until they were confronted with the incriminating pinging from their property, at which point they admitted to purloining the signs.

One one occasion, Miner arrived at a home in Anaheim Hills – with “Yes on the Recall” yards signs in the lawn -when the husband and wife who lived there were in the garage with the door open. Miner’s grassroots leader, Frank Rodriguez, informed them he believed they had her campaign signs – which the wife immediately denied. Rodriguez triggered the digital tracker’s ringer. “What’s that?” the wife asked her husband. He looked around and picked up a “No on the Recall” sign – at which point the woman copped to taking the sign – although she claimed it “the wind blew it over” and she brought it in. As it turned out, the woman had 11 stolen “No on the Recall” signs in her garage.

In another instance, Miner – along with state Senate candidate Crystal Miles – arrived at a home in Orange, which again had “Yes on the Recall” yard signs out front – and followed the same protocol. The woman who lived there initially denied having any signs, until betrayed by the telltale ringing of the digital tracker coming from her garage. At that point, the woman not only admitted her guilt but implicated her neighbor in the crime.

In addition to the 11 stolen “No on the Recall” signs in her garage, the woman also had purloined several “Crystal Miles for Senate” and “Don Wagner for Supervisor” campaign signs.

She justified her sign stealing by claiming they took them because they were “unsightly.”

In another instance, Miner tracked a tagged sign to another Orange home. When she arrived, accompanied by her father, they waited for the police to arrive before approaching a man whom they assumed lived there to explain why they were there. He informed them they must be looking for his ex-wife, since he no longer lived there. He called his ex-wife at some point while talking to the police, because she arrived and admitted to stealing the signs. In her case, police recovered 19 stolen “No on the Recall” signs, along with 34 sign stakes – strongly indicating she had ben on a prolonged sign stealing spree.

In the presence of Orange police officers, in the three most recent cases, which occurred late last week, Miner has made a private person’s arrest (what used to be commonly called a “citizen’s arrest”). Two people were arrested for violating California Penal Code sections 488 (petty theft) and 496 (receiving stolen property), and a third with violating PC 496.

Given that tagging just a few “No on the Recall” signs led to the arrest of three pro-OUSD recall activists and the recovery of dozens of stolen signs, it is more than reasonable to conclude that a larger number of OUSD Recall activists are responsible for stealing the hundreds of missing “No on the Recall” signs.

“I am an advocate for personal responsibility, respect for property rights, and adherence to traditional moral values,” said Miner when asked for comment by OC Independent.

“I am grateful for our local law enforcement acting swiftly and I remain steadfast in my decision to hold my offenders accountable. With such blatant violations of my constituents’ and my financial interests in fighting this ridiculous recall I am even more driven to help protect and educate our students in the Orange Unified School District,” said Miner.


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