Southold Town Police arrested 84-year-old Marilyn Flynn at her Cutchogue home on Thursday. She was charged with misdemeanor petit larceny and released on a $100 bond. Flynn could not be reached for comment and a phone number listed for her in public records was not in service.
According to police, she was spotted on Thursday afternoon allegedly removing signs from the side of Route 25 in Peconic. The signs, authorities said, were advertising an upcoming show by Cole Bros. Circus, which is supposed to come to town next week. Police said a circus employee asked to pursue criminal charges and Flynn was arrested.
“Our circus has experienced a rash of stolen signs across Long Island,” said Renee Storey, the vice president for administration at Cole Bros. She said the company paid for the signs, which she described as being similar to political campaign lawn signs. Storey said the company was “quite distressed” when they learned of the theft and noted that employees spent time seeking permission and then physically placing the signs on the roadway.
Police said Flynn had two of the stolen signs in her home. Cops were able to recover the alleged stolen property when Flynn was arrested. She is due to appear in court at a later date.
In an interview with the Suffolk Times, Flynn described the incident as an “act of civil disobedience.” She told the newspaper that she admits to removing the signs because she believes the animals may be mistreated. The Cole Bros. Circus has disputed similar allegations made by animal rights activists.
The circus will have performances on June 24 and 25 at the Greenport Polo Grounds. The Greenport Volunteer Fire Department is sponsoring the event. A portion of the proceeds will be used to further fire safety education, Storey said.