By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Christmas-themed lawn decorations have made an attractive target for local vandals, who have forsaken Christmas cheer in favor of thievery and destruction.
"It's kind of discouraging. You put them out and expect people to enjoy them, and then something like this happens," said Havre resident Erling Lynnes, whose lighted reindeer fell victim to vandals twice in one week. "It's unfortunate, but it does happen."
The Havre Police Department has received complaints from at least five people regarding lawn ornament theft or vandalism since Dec. 1. Although the number is not as high as it has been in some years, police said such occurrences are commonplace.
Lynnes' decorations were first targeted Dec. 11, when thieves made off with "Rudolph," a lawn-mounted reindeer outfitted with a glowing red nose that had been perched on his front lawn.
"They were very careful when they took Rudolph," Lynnes said. "They unplugged him and carried him off. I'd recognize him if I ever saw him, but I doubt that will happen. I'll probably never see him again."
The two other brightly lit reindeer were not accosted the night Rudolph disappeared, and Lynnes decided to keep the rest of his decorations on display in front of his south Havre home. A week later, vandals kicked over and damaged the other two reindeer.
"I was pretty steamed at first, but I've kind of gotten over it now," Lynnes said.
Lynnes boxed up his Christmas decorations after the second incident, and said they are likely to stay that way.
"I just put them away for the year. I don't think I'll put them up next year," he said. "It's really too bad."
Another Havre resident whose lawn was targeted by thieves said he remains undeterred and plans to put up decorations next holiday season. Robert Floren opened his front door Saturday morning and was dumbfounded to discover that a number of stuffed crows and a herd of lighted reindeer had migrated off the front lawn of his Highland Park house.
"I walked outside to grab my paper, and they were all gone. They had vanished," he said. " I don't miss my reindeer as much as I miss the crows. Whoever did it was pretty brave. It was all lit up out there."
Floren's anger at the theft of his reindeer and stuffed crows has subsided to the point that he no longer bears ill will against the thief.
"I just hope they put it to good use," he said. "Maybe they were someone who used it to decorate their house who couldn't afford anything. If they did that, it would be fine by me. I want to wish them a merry Christmas and hope they like them. I hope they put them somewhere nice."