The 12 days of Local Pressmasness: Five festively themed thefts



A Christmas tradition almost as old as, well, newspapers themselves: Crimes which usually make nibs suddenly become something much more important when there is a Christmas angle. I’ll do ‘Christmas wrecked by’ in the next couple of days, but today, we’ll focus on strange festive things stolen, some of which make you ask ‘why’ and others which make you ask ‘Why?’

From Baby Jesus to Santa, Christmas lights to mince pies, when it comes to Christmas, it’s less about the value of the theft, more about how festive it is …

1. Santa

When it comes to festive thefts, he’d better watch out, he could well cry, he might even pout, I’m telling you why …. Santa Claus seems to top the list of festive things to be stolen.

Top billing this year goes to the Aberdeen Evening Express, who reported on a light-up Santa stolen from a couple’s house, only for it to be returned a couple of days later. The couple, who previously ran a nursery where the Santa was a star turn, also received this note:

2. Jesus

Cutting right to the heart of the meaning of Christmas, poor old baby Jesus doesn’t seem to command the respect he should these days. Thefts of the baby Jesus from nativities are reasonably commonplace, but most seem to from Nativity scenes at ground level.

Not so in Newcastle, Staffordshire, where Jesus went missing from a display on a pub roof:

To quote the Stoke Sentinel: 

Mary and Joseph have been left alone after thieves scaled The Gatehouse pub in Clayton and took the plaster statue of the new-born king. They also pinched a shepherd.

But perhaps the most remarkable stolen Jesus story comes from the Brighton Argus, which covered the theft of a baby Jesus in Bexhill a couple of years ago:
Yobs even taunted the church choir during practice saying, “Where’s your baby Jesus?”

3. Christmas Trees

You probably saw the story about the woman stealing a small tinsel Christmas tree from a care home. It made all the news bulletins. But 100 Christmas trees all in one go? Yup.

Sadly, there’s not too much detail about the trees which went AWOL in Lewes, as the Brighton Argus wrapped it into a piece about a tree in Brighton centre being vandalised. But 100 Christmas trees? That’s quite a raid there.

But not unique by any stretch. A quick trawl through Google News found 20 stolen Christmas trees in Rawtenstall, Lancs (plus 46 wreaths and a few grave pots), a number stolen ‘during the hours of darkness’ (aka nearly all day then) in Haverfordwest, Wales; Scots pines chopped down in East Grinstead by men dressed as park rangers and 200, yes 200, stolen from a garden centre in Knutsford.

According to the Knutsford Guardian, Police believe ‘ The thieves would have had to make several trips to move the trees possibly using a commercial vehicle.’ You don’t say.

4. Rudolph

My daughter is two. I dread the day she announces she wants a pony. It’ll be a short, but long-felt, conversation. We had a dress rehearsal the other week when she announced she wanted a reindeer, or, as she puts it ‘one of Santa’s horsies.’ Again, it was a short conversation.

But if your child does ever ask for a reindeer, there’s always the option of stealing Rudolph. We return to Brighton – again:

   Festive fools have left Dancer, Dasher, Dixon and Prancer heartbroken – by stealing their pal Rudolph.

A life-size wire and tinsel reindeer has been stolen from a Christmas tree plantation in Ardingly Road, Lindfield, near Haywards Heath – and it is the second time in as many years the farm has been targeted.

Last year thieves cut down a giant Christmas tree, leaving Liz Kidger and her family more blue than white at Christmas.

This year the family thought they had escaped the Grinch but their beloved family reindeer, nicknamed Rudolph, was pinched.

I’m beginning to think someone in Brighton doesn’t like visual displays of Christmas anywhere. Reindeer have also disappeared in Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Leicester,

A new one on me, but a masterclass from the Nottingham Post on how to turn a crime nib into something much more, under the headline: “Bulwell pensioner: ‘Burglars took my car… and ate my mince pies”

Dennis Dunstan woke to find thieves had climbed through the kitchen window into his Bulwell flat overnight.

The 70-year-old retired miner discovered that £150 was missing from a wallet, a laptop and camera had gone, and his Smart car had been taken.

And when he later opened the fridge at his flat he discovered even more was missing.

“I realised they’d been helping themselves to what was in there as well,” he said. “Three mince pies and a can of shandy were gone.”

The Post stepped in to replace some of his stolen goods, with Tesco all too happy to offer up a festive hamper which included shandy and mince pies.
I thought this story was pretty sad until I read one in the Bristol Post – where East Bristol Foodbank has had its much-needed efforts damaged by burglars who broke in and stole 40kg of Christmas food.

Ho, ho, ho eh?  No, me neither.



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