Two large boxes of a City Council candidate's political literature have been missing since a mystery man picked up thousands of mailers from a downtown printer and drove away, campaign officials reported Thursday.
"It's an act of sabotage," charged Bill O'Hare, candidate Ann Christoph's campaign manager.
The literature consisted of campaign letters and cards soliciting donations and volunteer help, O'Hare said. Because it was immediately reprinted, Christoph's campaign did not suffer, he said.
The printed material was taken Wednesday from Copies Now at 240 Beach St., but O'Hare said he waited a day before reporting the incident to the city clerk, hoping the boxes would reappear.
"We allowed the afternoon to pass, hoping this was some sort of terrible mistake," O'Hare said. "It's hard to figure. . . . Why would someone do it? I don't know."
The printer, who opened in Laguna just three months ago, said a man believe to be an imposter left with the boxes of copied material about 2 p.m., less than a minute before a bona fide campaign worker arrived.
"He said, 'I need the job for Christoph for Council, so we gave him the job," Mehdi Zahedi recalled. "Then about 30 seconds later here came someone from Christoph for Council and said, "Where is the job?' and I said, 'Somebody just picked it up.' "
Zahedi said the man was in his mid-40s and drove a burgundy-colored new car similar to a Cadillac or Lincoln Continental.
City Clerk Verna L. Rollinger said Thursday that she cannot recall other such incidents in Laguna. Campaign workers were stunned, considering what O'Hare called a "relatively low-key" campaign to this point.
He said the literature could not have been taken accidentally.
"It's not like you just picked up somebody's sunglasses at a lunch counter and stuck them in your pocket," he said. "This is a lot of stuff. I can't read it any other way than someone purposely making some attempt to disrupt the campaign."
Laguna Beach police Sgt. Lance Ishmael declined to say Thursday whether a crime had been committed or whether a mistake was made.
Christoph is one of nine candidates.