A band of not-so-merry people channeled the spirit of the Grinch as they vandalized Christmas decorations outside at least three Jacksonville homes Tuesday night, according to residents.
“We had eight reindeer made out of wood with lights on them attached to a sleigh with Santa in it. They just came in and flipped them over. It’s just a mess,” said Jack Wesson, who has lived with his wife, Gwendolyn, on 11th Avenue in Jacksonville since 1981.
The rampage left wooden reindeer feet in pieces and string lights strewn across the street. The Wessons decorate every year, but this is the first year they’ve used the reindeer, sleigh and Santa on their lawn.
“This set of reindeer and the sleigh came from my brother-in-law, who passed away this year. We brought them here and put them out in his honor, then this happened,” Wesson said.
He said the reindeer were staked down securely, but the pillagers still managed to break them from their mounts. Wesson says he plans to store the decorations, rather than put them back out to be vandalized again.
“I’m a little irritated about it because we’ve never had anything like this happen,” he said. “This has always been a good neighborhood, so this is aggravating and disappointing.”
Jacksonville police received a few reports of vandalism to Christmas decorations Tuesday night, according to Assistant Chief Bill Wineman. He also said no no arrests have been made.
“We see this every year,” he said. “But, if you don’t see them in the act, you don’t really know who it is. They’re usually riding around on bikes or in a car, but we can’t just stop people without probable cause.”
Wineman recommends using the Ring doorbell system, a video surveillance device that attaches to a door and can be controlled with a smartphone. He said this system is the best thing to come out “since sliced bread.”
Jacksonville resident Tanya Miller said her home was also struck by Christmas vandals who destroyed her decorations Tuesday night, according to a Facebook post.
This neighborhood was among the hardest hit by the March tornado earlier this year.
In that post Miller said her children were upset and her own Christmas spirit took a hit at the sight of her lawn. She said she is also afraid to put any more decorations out, for fear of more vandalism.