ELMHURST – An Elmhurst man was charged with theft after he took a downtown business' sign from the sidewalk and placed it outside City Hall.
Michael Krumrey, 46, of the 400 block of West Crockett Avenue, was charged with theft at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday, police said.
Nu Crepes reported someone stole the business' A-frame sign between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday from the sidewalk at Schiller Court and York Street, police said.
Police retrieved nearby surveillance video and saw Krumrey put the sign in his car. Police ran his plates and charged Krumrey on Tuesday at his home.
"As I explained to the officers that came to my home I did not steal it," Krumrey said Thursday. He explained that he brought the sign directly to City Hall, which was closed Sunday, and left it at the door.
"In the city code, those signs are illegal," said Krumrey, explaining that he moved the sign because he believed it was a safety hazard.
A-frame signs on York Street have been mentioned during the City Council's previous discussions around pushcart food vendors. Pamela Uslander, known as The Hot Dog Lady of Elmhurst, is the city's only pushcart vendor. She previously operated in the same place as the Nu Crepes sign before the council voted to remove her location and another from the list of approved spots for safety concerns.
The Public Affairs and Safety Committee's report, which the council approved, cited congestion and potential construction as reasons for eliminating the positions.
"It was clearly indicated that there was a safety issue in that vicinity," Krumrey said. Nu Crepes has since recovered the sign.
Assistant City Manager Mike Kopp said the sign was gone by the time City Hall opened Monday but other signs had been found following the City Council's decision to remove Uslander's location.
"The next morning when we came in there were about a half-a-dozen sandwich boards by the back doors of City Hall," Kopp said.
Nu Crepes owner Niall Martin acknowledges the restaurant's sign has been mentioned during discussions surrounding Uslander, but was surprised when the sign went missing.
"We didn't expect our sign to be moved without any notification prior," Martin said.
He and his family run Nu Crepes in the Schiller Passage at 115 W. Schiller Court. Martin said his business relies on the sign on York Street to guide customers to the restaurant because it's not easily seen from the street.
"As much controversy as it's stirred up, it does bring business to us and Elmhurst as a city," Martin said.
He said Nu Crepes gets a lot of out-of-town customers who use their phones or GPS to get to the restaurant but can't find it because it's tucked in the pedestrian passage. He worries that without the sign on York Street, potential diners might give up if they can't find his business.
"We're in the works with the city to get some proper signage on York for us," Martin said.
He explained he would much rather have a permanent sign on York, not only for Nu Crepes, but also for other businesses that might move into the pedestrian passage.
Martin denies Nu Crepes made any effort to sway the City Council's decision to move Uslander, who can still operate her hot dog cart on the other side of York Street near the City Centre Fountain.
"There's no interest on our part to profit on the moving of Pamela [Uslander] or any other business," Martin said. Krumrey maintains he didn't steal the sign but just relocated it to a safe location.
"It's a safety issue. It'd be no different than if I picked up a broken bottle," Krumrey said.
He later said in an email that he has no ill feelings toward Nu Crepes.
"It just happened their sign was involved in the event," Krumrey said.