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Updated: Videos helped identify professor as alleged lawn signs thief


An Operations Research and Financial Engineering professor was charged with the alleged theft of 21 business lawn signs on Monday afternoon, the Princeton Police Department said.

Professor John Mulvey was issued a summons and released. Police said the missing lawn signs were valued at $470.82, and they were all recovered, undamaged, at Mulvey's residence.

He was apparently identified as the alleged thief through surveillance videos taken by the victim. Mulvey said in response that he thought the signs were debris left on the side of the road.

The lawn signs, which were allegedly stolen between June 2013 and July of this year, had been located around Rosedale Road near Elm Road, in the area between the University campus and Mulvey’s residence.The lawn signs were for Princeton Computer Tutor & Repairs and belonged to Ted Horodynsky, the president of the company.

Horodynsky said in an interview that he believes the signs were stolen as a result of a traffic incident from August of last year that occurred near Rosedale and Elm, where the signs were allegedly taken from. Later that month, he said, he received a phone call from an unnamed male caller, who accused Horodynsky of cutingt him off in traffic. Horodynsky said the caller had noticed the name of his company, written on Horodynsky's car, and allegedly promised to "remove all advertisements" from supermarkets and the road in retaliation. Three days later, Horodynsky said he began to notice signs in the area missing in the area.

"I thought, 'Okay, this guy is going to fulfill his threat,'" he explained. He reported most of these to the police, "but [the thief] did it so often that I thought I would become a pain in the ass to the police."

Once, Horodynsky said he came upon a man who he says resembled Mulvey removing a sign from a client's property, and attempted to chase him with his car. The car, however, did not belong to Mulvey, he said, but to a Pennington resident.

Horodynsky then set up several cameras and placed the few signs he had left, and was able to film a man resembling Mulvey taking the signs on Sunday and Monday of this week.

In the videos, which were released by Horodynsky to The Daily Princetonian, a man who resembles Mulvey can be seen walking up to the curb, removing the sign, and walking back to his car. In one video, in which the man is dressed in jogging clothes, a car's license plate can be seen in the corner of the frame. Using this, the police were able to make an arrest, Horodynsky said.

Mulvey, who has been an ORFE professor since 1978, also founded and serves as chairman of DPT Capital Management, a local investment firm. He was also a founding member of the University's Bendheim Center for Finance.

Mulvey, who is 67 years old, was charged with theft and intends to plead not guilty. He does not seem to have a criminal record, according to a search of public records on the Nexis database.

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A court date is pending, police said.