Signs opposing proposed chicken farm stolen from yards
— Maryland State Police officials are investigating the theft of as many as 50 signs — all opposing a proposed chicken farm on England Creamery Road — from private yards over the weekend.
Trooper Koontz, of the North East barrack, said the victims had erected as many as 95 signs on private property all around the farm.
“Forty to 50 of the signs placed were stolen,” Koontz said Tuesday.
A week earlier more than a dozen signs were stolen, according to organizers.
One of the victims, Jim Jones, has a home surveillance camera in his yard that captured black-andwhite video footage of the alleged thieves Sunday night. The video shows a driver in a silver late model pickup truck — possibly a Chevrolet — and two runners. In the video, the truck is seen moving slowly along Old Elm Road around 10:30 on Sunday night as two figures get out of the truck and dart onto yards, pulling signs from the ground.
“It looks like they can’t be over 21,” Koontz said of the suspects.
Most of the signs were constructed of corrugated plastic and bear the black silhouette of a chicken behind a red circle with a slash and the words “Stop Perdue Factories in Cecil County.”
The signs were distributed at a July 28 meeting held at Rising Sun American Legion to organize opposition against Galen and Crystal Horst’s plan to convert their existing 220-acre dairy farm
into an organic poultry farm that would raise chickens for Perdue. Each of the four 63-by-600-foot buildings would house 220,000 chickens for seven weeks. From there, the birds would be transported to Milford, Del., for processing.
But opponents of the plan fear environmental damage, lost property values and a loss of enjoyment of their property. Though the plan is still in the permitting process, Brian Frymiare, who has been leading the oppo- sition, filed a tort claim in Cecil County District Court last week seeking $30,000 in damages from the Horsts.
Only one of the stolen signs has been found, and it was a much larger sign that Jones erected in his front yard. A former white board, Jones said he figures the thieves could not get the sign into their truck quickly.
“I found it in the ditch in front of a neighbor’s yard,” Jones said.
In broad daylight a day later, Jones’ surveillance cameras picked up what appears to be the same pickup accompanied by two others driving slowly along Old Elm Road.
“It pretty much matched the description of the one the night before,” Koontz said.
While he has no leads, Koontz said he has suggested that those who wish to place more signs put them closer to their homes and not along the edge of the road.
“If they put more signs out, they’ll probably keep doing it,” Koontz said.
He also told the victims it would be helpful to get the tag of the suspected truck.
Anyone with information on the thefts can contact Koontz at the North East barrack by calling 410-9967800.
State police are investigating the theft of signs opposing a proposed chicken farm, such as this sign seen in front of a house on Old Elm Road two weeks ago, from private yards over the weekend.