A Duanesburg teen swiped a Donald Trump yard sign over the weekend and is now facing a misdemeanor charge, state police said.
The sign’s owner cited a Facebook post with helping to locate the alleged thief.
Brennan D. Greene, 16, faces one count of petit larceny, a misdemeanor, police said.
Greene is accused of stealing the 4-by-8-foot sign from a Western Turnpike property sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning.
The teen’s motives were unclear Monday — police did not include a reason in their report and could not be reached for further comment. But Greene allegedly cut the corrugated plastic sign from two posts while leaving behind a similarly sized sign showing support for local Republican state Senate candidate George Amedore.
Randy Passonno owns the property and the signs. He ordered them from the respective campaigns a couple of weeks ago. The larger signs help with visibility on the 55 mph Route 20, where they were placed.
He noticed the sign missing Sunday morning, the thief leaving behind a small corner of the Trump sign still affixed to the pole. He contacted state police and also posted to Facebook.
He recalled feeling upset, disrespected and violated when he realized what had happened.
Passonno, who also owns Collar City Auctions in Duanesburg, said he supports Trump because he believes he will bring jobs back and improve the economy.
He said he doesn’t know Greene and hasn’t been given a reason for the alleged theft.
“Not that it matters,” Passonno said of the reason. “He went onto private property and damaged a sign, took the sign. In some people’s eyes, it may not be a big deal, but to me and to my family, it is. It’s disrespectful. You don’t touch other people’s property.”
As the state police did their initial work on the case, Passonno went to work himself. He posted the information to his personal Facebook page and offered a reward of $500 “to whoever turns in the lowlife that did it.”
Passonno said that within a half-hour, he had the tip that helped crack the case. He turned the information over to police, who found Greene in possession of the sign, police said. Passonno said he’s already paid the reward money.
Police released a photo of the beaten-up plastic banner, including the corner left behind on the pole. Passonno said investigators used the cut corner to match up with the recovered sign to positively identify it as Passonno’s.
The sign remains in police custody as evidence. Passonno has already placed three smaller Trump signs where the large one stood, though the smaller signs are more difficult to see from fast-moving cars.
Passonno said he hoped to have a replacement larger sign in time for Election Day.
“It just comes down to the violation of us being able to express our First Amendment right,” Passonno said. “And somebody disturbing that and violating that, it’s just not right.”
Greene was released and is to return to court later.
Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, firstname.lastname@example.org or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.