Damaging and removing election signs is a common problem during any campaign, but one Calgary councillor believes his campaign has been unfairly singled out.

Evan Woolley is running for re-election in Ward 8 and says that about 20 percent of his signs have been taken or defaced.

“These were on a bold sign so these would’ve been all singularly unscrewed; this is no insignificant effort,” Woolley said as he showed off some of the damaged signs collected at his campaign office.

Many of the signs taken from boulevards around the city have been found, but Woolley says many are four by eight and four by four in size, so he doubts this was done by a single person.

“What’s unusual about this is just the scale of organization. They would’ve needed trucks and tools and people to undertake this which is obviously very disappointing.”

A number of the signs were found on the ground near where they’d been posted or dumped near the Stanley Park pool.

About 150 lawn signs have also gone missing, including one where the homeowner captured the thief on a surveillance video, casually walking off with it.

Woolley says he’s knocked on about 25,000 doors so far in the campaign and says the vandals have caused more damage than they realize.

“We worked so, so hard on this campaign; hundreds of volunteer hours of people who want to get involved in the democratic process and this just completely undermines all of that hard work,” Woolley said.

One of Woolley’s opponents says he has been hit by vandals too.

Chris Davis found a number of signs dumped outside his campaign office and he is now going around replacing them.

“The disappointing thing is elections are about democracy, it’s about expression and every time someone removes or damages a sign, what they’re saying is that they want to halt expression.”

Candidates for council aren’t the only targets vandals are looking at. Julie Hrdlicka, running for re-election as a public school board trustee, has had signs stolen from public and private property. She says that while it’s just a petty crime, it’s also an attack on democracy.

“Next election, they might not be so open to putting signs on their lawn and that, I think, impacts all of us who are trying to build opportunities for people to vote and raise awareness about the elections.”

Woolley, who has had the most signs removed, doesn’t know who could be removing them, but says it’s possible some candidates in the race could be running negative attack campaigns that could have influenced whoever was behind the thefts.

The police say they are investigating the incidents that involve thousands of dollars’ worth of signs as property crimes.

(With files from Shaun Frenette)