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Romney sign burning in Leesburg considered arson

Wednesday - 10/24/2012, 12:02pm  ET

Romney sign in Leesburg (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)
Here's what the Stevens' lawn looks like after the fire. Libby Stevens says she replaced the burned sign with a smaller one and flag. Thieves stole signs off her picket fence three times. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)
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Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

LEESBURG, Va. - It's not unusual for campaign signs to be stolen or even destroyed during the course of a political campaign. But an incident early Monday morning, involving a sign burning, is now being called arson.

Libby Stevens put up her 4-foot-by-8-foot blue and white Mitt Romney sign when the candidate himself came to Leesburg last week. It was on her front lawn, inside her white picket fence. About 2 a.m. Monday someone set the plastic sign on fire.

Stevens says it was scary to look out the window to see flames leaping into the night.

"To come into someone's gated fenced front yard and set something on fire? Something could have happened," she says.

The Loudoun County Fire Department has classified the sign burning as arson, which in this case would be a misdemeanor. If a suspect is convicted he or she could face a year in jail and a big fine.

Stevens' home is on South King Street, or route 15, which is a major commuter route into Leesburg.

Stevens says signs have been stolen from her fence before. She's replaced her smaller signs on the fence three times, even using plastic fasteners to keep them from being stolen again.

Two doors down, her neighbor also has signs up. But they are for President Obama.

Her message to whoever burned the sign: "Shame on you!"

On her lawn now, next to the scorch mark from the fire, and two empty aluminum poles, she has placed a smaller Romney sign and an American flag.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)