After countless uncomfortable incidents of costumed characters becoming embarrassing tabloid fodder and literal masked menaces, the NYPD has finally started cracking down on the costumed characters of Times Square. Cops passed out flyers last month notifying tourists that "photos with costumed characters are free. Tipping is optional." And they made good on that notice when they arrested Minnie Mouse, Woody, and a Statue of Liberty for unlawful solicitation yesterday.

According to the Post, 47-year-old Carmen Dinegro (Minnie Mouse), 42-year-old Eimer Perales (Woody from Toy Story), and 34-year-old Hugo Smith-Gomez (Statue of Liberty) were arrested around 8 p.m. Wednesday after asking tourists for $5 in tips. A police source offered the Post a strange quote that sounds... taken out of context, to put it mildly.

“They’re jealous of us,” one character said to another as they were being busted, according to a police source. “That’s why they arrested us.”

The costumed characters of Times Square have started their own "union-like group" called NYC United for a Smile to combat some of the negative press and demand rights for life-sized cartoon panhandlers all over midtown. At the same time, City Councilman Andy King has proposed legislation which would require all costumed individuals to register and get licensed, something which NYPD experts have been suggesting for years.

In the meantime, let's all hope Alien and Predator aren't brought into this.

Screen shot (via Daily News)