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Added May 21 2012

I just held a garage sale over the weekend and unfortunately, it was unsuccessful. I realized that there was a problem at about 9:30am on Saturday when not one customer came by. It dawned on my that maybe something happened to my sign down the alley and sure enough, I found that all the signs I posted for my sale were taken/stolen!! I had just posted them on Thursday night! I live near Lawrence and Central. Has anyone else had this happen to them? I guess it was my fault for spending extra money on weatherproof signs, but really? Who steals signs?!?!?! I don't understand why anyone would steal garage sale signs!!

  • Inactive user

    Maybe it was someone who thought they were an eyesore rather than someone who wanted them.

  • Jake, I get it. I know there are people who put up their signs weeks in advance and then never bother to take them down. Yes, eyesore. But, I purposely waited until Thursday to put up the signs, bought nicer signs than just poster board, and I am a responsible neighbor who takes their signs down right after the sale is over. My cheap neon poster board signs were not taken down but the $4.00 plastic boards I bought at Home Depot get stolen. Clearly this is the work of someone who is just being a jerk. This also cost me a successful sale.

    One customer told me the same thing happened to them and I was just wondering if others have experienced the same problem.

  • Inactive user

    Just a theory, not saying I agree.

  • Mike Michaels

    This happened to me too, but it was just one of 8 signs posted, and I think it was the scrap metal/junk collectors who took it for the metal. I used old real estate signs that you see for a open house.
    I also put the signs up in the morning of the sale, check on them throghout the day, then take them down at night. It's a lot of work, but worth it in my opinion, it really brings in the traffic! Good luck.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Poor graphic design production can be a problem too.

    You need a san serif font, huge, not scribbling with a Sharpie.

    Anything else is kinda lowrent.

  • pattymelt is mostly in charge

    If they thought they were an eyesore then it would have been nice if they could have at least asked you to remove the signs.

    Technically, it is illegal to post garage sale signs anywhere but on your property, see:

    You are probably already aware that you can post your sale for free on craigslist and I think an ad in the local newspaper is pretty cheap and that avid shoppers do look there to find sales, see:

  • Josh. .

    Here's the ordinance:
    NOTE: According to ordinance 10-8-320, you may not advertise your sale by posting signs or any other material (flags, banners, etc.) on any city property (i.e. light poles, traffic signals, bus stops, etc.) including string banners between light poles. You are entitled to post signs on your own property only.

  • Josh. .

    Sorry to say that your signs were not stolen. They were most likely removed by the city or neighbors for violating this ordinance. All this info is provided when you apply for a garage sale permit. Lots a people aren’t aware that you need a permit and others simply don’t bother.

  • I am aware of the ordinance, I did obtain a permit, and I also spoke with the Alderman's office about this. I was told that while I would technically need a permit, city workers are not instructed to remove the signs and that it was most likely a neighbor.

    I also paid for advertising in several newspapers but believe that signs are the best way for people to find their way to your house.

    I would prefer a neighbor come and talk to me about my signs instead of taking them down. I beg to disagree with the theory that they were simply "removed". I paid for those signs and therefore, I consider the action stealing property. Josh, if you or anyone else thinks about taking down signs, it would be in your best interest to return the signs to the address posted. Ordinance and permits aside, the signs were stolen and the last time I checked, two wrongs don't make a right. Don't try and justify a true crime based on "violating an ordinance".

  • Josh. .

    Amy, why are you snapping at me? I don’t remove or suggest removing advertizing signs whether they are legal or illegal. I agree with you that two wrongs don’t make a right. However, I only see “one” wrong. (You cannot affix your property onto public property). They were not stolen, they were rightfully removed. I also suggest that instead of feeling offended or violated because you believe that your signs were stolen, I would be relieved that they were rightfully removed before you incurred fines ranging from $50 to $500 with each day representing a separate offense unless of course, your Alderman agreed to waive those too.

  • @amy, i am sorry that someone stole your signs, maybe they were too nice of signs and someone needed the plastic to make something like a nato protest sign on the back or something.
    like with anything that is stolen, i assume you called police and filed a report before reporting it every block. too many times crimes go on and people never file a police report .
    i would not see the intent of finding who did it, if you were not going to do anything about it.

  • Josh. .

    @inactive user,
    Please forgive me if I missed the sarcasm in your last comment. Sometimes I feel like Sheldon from the big bang theory. lOl. I too am sorry someone took down Amy’s signs; however, they were not stolen. Therefore, there is no police report to file. In fact, if she does attempt to file a report AND… it’s a slow day at the police station they just may turn around and fine her for illegally posting garage sale signs on public property.

    I believe Amy did everything right from checking with the Alderman, and obtaining a permit. I don’t even fault her for posting signs at her own risk on property other than her own regardless if she knew if it was wrong or not, she took a chance, good for her! Where her case falls apart for me is; insisting they were rudely stolen perhaps by nieghbors for which the ordinance was meant to serve.

  • InTheManor Edgebrook resident

    If they were removed by city employees or one expressly authorized by the city, then one could reasonably argue that the removal was not theft. If they were removed by anybody else, they were stolen, regardless of any civil offense in posting them on city property.

    If you park your car on the street and don't notice a street cleaning sign, and some helpful private citizen decides to remove your car and "dispose" of it for you as you are clearly in violation of an ordinance, are you copacetic with that?

    If you see illegal signage, don't resort to vigilantism. Call 311 or your alderman.

  • @InTheManor - THANK YOU! Finally, someone with some sense!

  • Josh. .

    May I ask you a fair question? You mentioned you did obtain a permit so I could only assume you've read it. Prior to hanging these temporary garage sale signs onto public property, were you aware that they would be in direct violation of the ordinance and took certain liberties regardless? If so, you took a gamble…. and lost! For that, you have my condolences.

    For you to carry-on as if they were actually stolen and that you’re the one being violated here, I have to say, my heart struggles to bleed for you.

    I also fail to see the logic in, “in the manor’s” analogy regarding parked cars. It is the responsibility of a homeowner to maintain the City’s property (easement parkway) in front of their home. This includes cutting the grass, trimming weeds, shoveling snow and removing illegally posted advertisement affixed to any structure within that easement. Removing someone else's garage sales signs, lost pet signs in front of your home may be discourteous but, “THAT IS NOT STEALING”!

  • Josh. .

    Will the "scofflaw" (contemptuous law/rule violator) be brave enough to explain why they have just marked my last comment as unneighborly or inappropriate? The NO THANKS button is not for disagreeing.

  • It wasn't me, that's for sure. I will only agree to disagree.

    Just for your reference, from the Oxford English Dictionary:

    steal: Pronunciation: /stēl/
    verb (past stole /stōl/; past participle stolen /ˈstōlən/)

    1 [with object] take (another person’s property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it: thieves stole her bicycle [no object]: she was found guilty of stealing from her employers (as adjective stolen) stolen goods

    dishonestly pass off (another person’s ideas) as one’s own: accusations that one group had stolen ideas from the other were soon flying

    take the opportunity to give or share (a kiss) when it is not expected or when people are not watching: he was allowed to steal a kiss in the darkness

    (in various sports) gain (an advantage, a run, or possession of the ball) unexpectedly or by exploiting the temporary distraction of an opponent.

    Baseball (of a base runner) advance safely to (the next base) by running to it as the pitcher begins the delivery: Rickey stole third base

    2 [no object] move somewhere quietly or surreptitiously: he stole down to the kitchen figurative a delicious languor was stealing over her

    [with object] direct (a look) quickly and unobtrusively: he stole a furtive glance at her

    noun [in singular]
    1 informal a bargain: for $5 it was a steal

    2 an act of stealing something: New York’s biggest art steal
    an idea taken from another work.
    Baseball an act of stealing a base.

  • InTheManor Edgebrook resident

    The City of Chicago has indeed obligated property owners to care for the city's land (not an easement actually) called the "parkway" and the sidewalks abutting one's property in particular ways. 10-32-050 requires one to perform "routine" care of the parkway lawn, as well as water and fertilize trees (but not trim without a permit!). 10-8-180 requires snow and ice removal from the sidewalk.

    I can find no ordinance that requires, or authorizes, private citizens to enforce the law regarding "occasional sale" signage (10-8-404), or a general legal mandate to tidy up the street/parkway abutting our property or remove "illegally posted advertisement affixed to any structure" on the said parkway. Maybe I'm not searching properly. If you can provide the citation, please illuminate me.

    As a "good" homeowner, I do indeed pick up litter in the street and on the parkway and otherwise nearby. The law recognizes that "abandoned" property (e.g. litter) is no longer owned, and can be taken. Is a sign intentionally placed and advertising an event that is current, legally "abandoned?" Probably not. Was it placed illegally on somebody else's land? It appears so. Is a private citizen authorized to interpret and enforce that law, and moreover remove the evidence of the potential infraction? If it is not abandoned, and you are not authorized to take it, it is theft, and a tort, albeit highly unlikely to be actionable as either.

    So unless you can find that ordinance authorizing you to seize it, it is indeed theft by default in my book. Call 311 or your alderman, see about getting 10-8-404 enforced. Don't be a vigilante -- or least recognize when you are. Just because something is illegal doesn't mean *you* are authorized to remedy the illegal action.

    BTW, the aforementioned "analogy" was simple reductio ad absurdum, and is quite logical, unless you can provide that citation, in which case I readily concede that it falls apart, like a straw man one could say.

  • Inactive user

    Citizen's Arrest! Citizen's Arrest!

  • Josh. .

    @Amy, I respect the fact that you can agree to disagree and I must admit I’m enjoying this debate. I believe you when you say it was not you who NO THANKED me. I didn’t mean to insinuate it was you, I know who they are and so does EB. When I used the word scofflaw, I was referring to the gentlemen consistently violating the new NO THANKS button to disagree or for some sort of infantile retaliation therefore knowing perfectly well they’re misusing it. That’s why I added the word “rule” to my violating the law expression.

    I guess what I’m trying to communicate is that I don’t hear you saying that you did anything wrong. Yet you remain fixated on simple semantics and, the highly debatable wrong committed against you.

    In the spirit of being neighborly, might I suggest you try to have another garage sale and this time ask some of your strategically located neighbors if you can post signs either directly on their lawn (like election campaign signs) or just anywhere and any kind of signs. Sometimes neighbors just want to be respected and know that you are trying to respect the local ordinances. Good luck.

  • Josh. .

    @In the Manor,
    Although I appreciate the time and research which went into your earlier comment, I regret to inform you that many cities currently do not consider removing illegally posted signage “theft” and, therefore will not prosecute. I’m uncertain at the moment if Chicago currently has a similar ordinance in place but I promise you I will find out soon. With all the cut backs, downsizing, outsourcing and just plain expecting the residents to carry more of the load, it wouldn’t surprise me if Chicago also goes that route if they haven’t already.

    Point being, common wisdom dictates that more & more residents are finding these signs to be a visual nuisance and the authorities are rewriting ordinances accordingly across the nation.

    I personally prefer to focus more on the gist of this argument and that’s the person/s who either wittingly or unwittingly hangs illegal signs on the public right-of-way.

  • InTheManor Edgebrook resident

    Oh, don't get me wrong Josh. As I wrote previously, it is highly unlikely that one would be charged, let alone prosecuted, for theft of somebody's signs posted illegally on city property.

    However, what gets my goat is those who self-righteously appeal to the law and state what is illegal and berate others, while conveniently ignoring their own actions or condoning those of others that are likewise illegal. Or those who think they know the law and are all too happy to chastise others for their perceived offenses, when in fact they do not understand the law. Or those who are all too happy to promote or engage in vigilantism for their preferred alleged offenses, but decry others who engage in it for other alleged offenses. Glass houses.

    As for the gist of your argument, it is your argument, so your preference is not shocking. The original poster wanted to know who stole her signs, to which she received the argument that it was not stealing because after all common wisdom dictates that two wrongs do make a right.

    Me, I'm a liberal live and let live kind of person and I don't mind in the least my neighbors posting little signs on the public way at intersections to direct people to their "occasional sale" so they can sell their stuff rather than fill up our landfills, so long as they take them down when done. Life in the big crowded megalopolis and all. I think that people who self-righteously go around systematically stealing them while muttering about how it's illegal are petty right wing thieving jerks.

    In Amy's case though, I'd wager that it was just a thieving jerk of a different flavor, taking her nice signs in order to reuse them.

    p.s. Regarding the research, it's really trivial. Just bookmark this site and you too can read the actual Chicago code, not just (often inaccurate) summations written by others.

  • Amy

    I can't believe the drama caused by garage sale signs that were taken down! Wow, this provides a replacement for day time tv, lol.
    Good points all around, well done folks.

  • InTheManor Edgebrook resident

    Nothing like a good debate over criminal garage sale sign placement and its social impact, and how the nefarious practice drives otherwise upstanding citizens to vigilante justice.

    Oh, and to drive future drama: in Chicago, front yard sales are illegal. Let the citizen patrols be aware! Maybe they can storm them, ala Chicago's own Eliot Ness.

  • Inactive user

    Drama queens love to scold.

  • Josh. .

    @Amy, Yes, this thread was fun but we all got a chance to listen to other viewpoints about the topic and perhaps learn something new, I know I have. Personally, I find obtaining a permit to hold a residential garage or yard sale somewhat ridiculous. Nonetheless, we need one.

    Seriously, I’m truly sorry your sale was unsuccessful. You could always have another with some new creative advertising ideas I’m sure you now have. I agree it is funny all the drama this topic suddenly got. If you really want to have some fun & drama here again, hold another garage sale and then ask us if you should pay taxes on the proceeds. LOL.

  • Amy

    Oh I'm a different Amy that is amused by the drama. I don't think Amy R, the garage sale holder, is amused.

    Personally I agree it is ridiculous that you need a permit but welcome to Chicago, the city where breathing costs you money.

  • Josh. .

    I’m sorry Amy, I just noticed that. Whenever I receive EB email, it just shows Amy with no Avatar so I foolishly assumed it was “thee” Amy. Sorry.

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