Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

July 23, 2013

Circus items recovered

Police say couple stole hundreds of collectibles.

By Carson Gerber Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — PERU — A Kokomo couple were arrested last week after deputies said they stole more than 200 circus posters and other 1920s circus memorabilia from a private collection housed in a barn near Peru.

Deputies said the couple pawned off the historical circus items at a Kokomo antique store over a month-long period. One of the posters ended up being auctioned off in Shipshewana for $850.

Jason E. Guffey, 42, and Aysha C. Guffey, 35, both of the 2100 block of North Locke Street in Kokomo, were arrested on charges of possession of stolen property. Jason Guffey also was charged with burglary.

Deputies said the couple broke into the barn housing the antique circus collectibles multiple times, and sold off the items once a week for about a month at the Antique Shop, 413 N. Washington St., in Kokomo.

Deputies said the couple stole old stands for lions and elephants, hand-painted wooden circus signs, a wooden chandelier, barrels and chests all used in the Cole Bros. Circus in the 1920s.

The couple were arrested after their car broke down near Grissom Air Reserve Base, on their way to sell more of the items at the antique store, deputies said.

The Miami County Sheriff’s Department received an anonymous tip the Kokomo residents had been stealing the memorabilia and they had a flat tire.

When deputies arrived, they said the couple and the circus items had been picked up by the antique dealer and driven to the store.

Deputies said they searched the vehicle and found other circus paraphernalia in the car, then waited until the couple arrived back at their vehicle, where they were arrested.

Deputies said they were able to track down nearly all the memorabilia in about two days. They said the Kokomo Police Department was instrumental in recovering the items, and added the antique dealer helped recover items he sold to a broker in Indianapolis.

The only piece authorities have yet to track down is the poster auctioned off for $850.

Sgt. Ron Dausch said it was a strange coincidence the circus items were stolen near Peru, the self-proclaimed “Circus Capital of the World,” and the couple were arrested during the annual Circus City Festival.

He said Aysha Guffey was on probation for a theft charge at the time of the arrest, and Jason Guffey had served prison time for an unrelated theft conviction.

Dausch said additional charges may be brought against the couple. Deputies are currently appraising the value of all the stolen items.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.