PHOENIX — The Super Bowl might be over, but the so-called "clean zone" saga in Phoenix continues. Now, the battle over free speech and Super Bowl signage has turned into a theft case.
Bramley Paulin, the property owner who sued over the City of Phoenix's clean zone, tells 12News the signs he worked so hard to finally put up were stolen off his property just hours later.
The incident was caught on camera.
“I couldn't believe my eyes," Paulin said.
The clean zone controversy
Paulin had been told by the City of Phoenix that his properties downtown, one of which is across from Hance Park, were within the Super Bowl clean zone. That meant all advertisements and signs needed the city and NFL's stamp of approval before being put up.
Paulin said it was a violation of free speech and teamed up with attorneys at the Goldwater Institute to take them to court.
A judge ruled in Paulin's favor earlier this month. The city granted his signage permits on February 6, leaving him little time to put together a plan.
“The city worked successfully to drag this legal process out so much," Paulin said.
Signs stolen hours after installation
Wednesday before the Super Bowl and one day before the NFL Experience at Hance Park kicked off, Paulin had six signs installed advertising a company called Max Guard.
“There were multiple banners placed high on the building wall showing Max Guard and then next to it, displaying where the product is available at the Home Depot," Paulin explained.
Hours after Paulin had the signs installed, time-stamped surveillance camera footage shows two men showing up in the alley behind his fenced-in property, scoping it out.
Around 4:30 p.m., the two men returned with a ladder and used it to climb the fence into Paulin's property. They are seen on camera coming back with the signs balled up in their hands and then tossing them over the fence into a truck.
“Something that I saw installed just a few hours prior just disappeared," Paulin said.
They are then seen climbing the ladder back over the fence.
Paulin said he did not recognize the men on camera.
“It's really frustrating to think that the organized group or possibly a private corporation would further encourage the enforcement of the city's clean zone," Paulin said.
Paulin showed up the next day in shock. He notified Phoenix police. A police spokesperson confirmed to 12News that they received a theft report, and the items reported stolen were large signs.
“They are investigating. And we're hoping that we're hoping and expecting that there will be some arrests made on this theft," Paulin said.
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