Media Bonanza

7 minute read

The recent theft of our outdoor Christmas decorations has set off a minor media bonanza. Shortly after the theft, we noticed a letter to the editor of The Morning Journal (a local newspaper. The writer of the letter detailed a similar theft. After a bit of investigation, we discovered that this writer lived only a few streets away. Therefore, Rachel wrote her own letter to The Morning Journal. They published it the next day. In addition, a local radio station read her letter on the air.

A few days later, a reporter from The Morning Journal gave me a call. He wanted to do an in-depth story on the thefts. Had I known that the story would be on the front page of the newspaper, I would have picked my words better. Of course, I am not always coherent at 10 P.M. Anyway, here is that story:

Looking for Lorain Grinches

Mike Sakal, Morning Journal Writer – 12/04/2005

LORAIN – What is the matter with some people?

‘Tis the season to be jolly, not a Grinch who stole Christmas – or at least part of the Christmas spirit.

The city’s east side has been hit with a rash of reported Christmas decoration thefts from the front yards of Lorain residents this past week – fiber-optic snowmen, an eight-foot-tall inflatable Christmas tree (valued at $65), a seven-foot and eight-foot inflatable Tigger and two mechanical reindeer.

The two mechanical reindeer valued at $80 were reported stolen from the front yard of a McKinley Street resident, according to a police report filed Tuesday.

The thefts have deflated the Christmas spirit for the victims, and also have triggered a rash of letters to the editor from angry residents.

The McKinley Street resident said she put the snowmen in her yard last Sunday and hadn’t even turned them on yet.

“They were there when I left for work at 7 a.m. Tuesday, but my neighbor noticed them gone when she left for work at 3 p.m.,” the resident said. “The thing of it is, they walked into the flower bed and took the extension cords that went with the reindeer. They took the whole works. They knew what they were doing.

“I had the reindeer in the garage for two years, and decided to put them up this year,” the resident added. “I think whoever is doing this should be prosecuted. Enough’s enough.”

A letter from Pat Eckenrode published in yesterday’s edition of The Morning Journal said she wished the thief could see her 3-year-old granddaughter’s sad eyes from waking up the next morning only to see a new tree and snowman gone – a day after her father put them up.

Eckenrode said in her letter, “Someday I hope your heart is broken like you have broken hers. How cruel can someone be, and if your parents can’t see what you have done or even allow it and put it up in your yard, I hope it reminds you how you have broken someone’s heart every time you look at it.

“You have accomplished nothing but the sadness of a 3-year-old girl,” Eceknrode wrote. “This was to be one of the happiest times of the year for children. What is the world coming to?”

James Gayhart, who owned two inflatable Tiggers that came up missing in his Wilson Street yard, said yesterday, he thought the decorations might’ve been more rare than others, and the thief might try to sell them on eBay or someplace like Jamie’s Flea Market.

“It’s just stupid,” Gayhart said of the thefts. “We’ve had them out in our yard for two or three years. We just took down an inflatable turkey. We’d like to have the Tiggers returned.”

On Thursday, resident Ann Smith wrote, “I’d like to thank the heartless thief who ruined my Christmas display for my grandchildren and family by taking my fiber optic snowmen, then coming back Monday and taking our snow globe.”

Smith said in her letter that she hopes the thief who is stealing the decorations gets caught and prosecuted.

“Shame on you. I hope your conscience eats away at you, but you probably don’t have a conscience, being that you’re a thief,” Smith said in her letter. “All I ask is that you return what you took.”

Two days later, I got a call from Channel 3 News and The Chronicle Telegram. Both of them also wanted to do stories. Channel 3 News sent out a news crew and got a few sound bytes from Rachel. The story aired during the 11 PM news. I have a copy of the clip if anyone wants to see it. Just send me e-mail and I will send the link to the clip. The story in The Chronicle Telegram appeared on the front page of the next day’s newspaper. This time, I picked better words. Here is a copy of that story:

Thieves steal holiday spirit

Chris Powell, The Chronicle-Telegram – 12/07/2005

AVON LAKE - A host of holiday decoration thefts and vandalism has deflated the Christmas spirit of the victims across the county.

Thieves in Lorain have been stealing inflatable versions of Scooby Doo, Tigger and Santa Claus from homes. Vandals in Avon have cut power cords to holiday light displays, and in Avon Lake, a family is still without exterior power after a snow shovel thief tripped over Christmas lights and shorting a circuit.

“I was pretty angry when I first saw Scooby Doo was missing,” said Lorain resident Jennifer Munoz. “I almost didn’t want to bother police to tell them there’s a giant Scooby Doo missing, but I was just so disheartened somebody could do something like that that I reported it stolen.”

Local police have increased patrols in the neighborhoods where the thefts are being reported, but Avon police Sgt. Robert Olds said officers are limited in how they can respond.

“We’re on the lookout for anyone who may vandalize homes and try to keep an eye on houses with decorations,” he said. “But this is something police departments deal with every holiday seasons. Vandals seem to think it’s funny, but they don’t realize how expensive decorations can get.”

The best thing residents can do, Olds said, is to ask neighbors to watch their decorations while they’re away from home and place personal identification on their decorations in case of theft.

Lorain resident Glenna Casner said thieves stole an inflatable reindeer, Christmas tree and Santa Claus display from the front yard of her home late Saturday night.

“When I got up the next morning to go to work, they were gone,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it. I’d just put them up. My grandchildren didn’t even get to see them.”

A self-proclaimed Santa junkie, Casner said the thieves even stole her extension cord.

“Bah, humbug on them, it’s just the wrong time of year to do these kinds of things,” she said. “It’s dampened my holiday spirit, but we’re still lighting up the rest of the house so Santa Claus can find us.”

Avon Lake resident Diane Hayas said she believes a thief who stole a snow shovel from the front porch of her South Pointe Drive home on Saturday tripped over Christmas lights, causing a short circuit of the exterior power outlets.

“The lights weren’t on when we came home from Christmas shopping,” she said. “That’s when we realized the shovel was gone and we had no outside power. I never thought it would come down to the day where you couldn’t have a snow shovel in front of your house.”

Lorain resident James Gayhart said the thieves who stole two inflatable Tiggers from his home Nov. 27 have discouraged him and his wife, Rachel, from further decorating.

“I was just surprised somebody had nerve to take our decorations. We’ve had them up for two years and this is the first problem we’ve had,” he said. “We’ve still got the rest of our decorations boxed up in our living room and are still debating about whether to put them up, but I don’t think I’ll be putting anything outside again unless I have a way of assuring it won’t be taken.”

Police encourage residents to report suspicious activities in their neighborhoods, and said any one who has had holiday decorations stolen or vandalized should not hesitate to file a report.

A coworker of Rachel told her that a similar news story aired on a different news station. However, I have not seen any other stories. I hope that it means that the thieves have stopped. In the meantime, we are not putting up any more decorations outside until we can get video surveillance. But, we did decorate the inside of the house. So, our Christmas will not be without decorations.

Tagline for today: “I recently had my Visa card stolen. Now it’s everywhere I want to be.” - Scott Wood