ST. GEORGE — From porch pirates to laser light bandits, some criminals seem intent on ruining the holiday fun. Lately, it seems almost impossible to go an entire day without seeing a social media post about another stolen projection laser light or other holiday item stolen from yards in St. George.
Individuals in some neighborhoods, however, have decided to take a stand against the bad Santas and Christmas criminals, and are taking matters into their own hands to stop would-be thieves.
Laser light bandits
The odds were stacked against juvenile theft suspects who chose to steal a Christmas laser light from the front yard of the wrong St. George homeowner, who subsequently chased the alleged thieves for approximately 20 minutes until authorities could detain them.
On Nov. 27, at approximately 8:45 p.m., laser light bandits had struck, again. This time, at the home of Little Valley resident Scott Joens where juveniles had allegedly helped themselves to Joens’ Star Showers Laser Light – a popular Christmas decor item which projects patterns onto a house or building and typically costs between $25 and $75.
“(The) crazy kids stole my laser light show right out of our yard,” Joens wrote in a Facebook post, confirmed to St. George News. “They picked the wrong old man to mess with because I got in the car and found them.”
Joens dialed 911 as he followed the alleged thieves in his vehicle.
“They led me on a 20-minute joyride,” he said, “but my mad driving skills kept up with their evasive maneuvers.”
With a 911 dispatcher now on the line, Joens said he called out street names along with traffic infractions perpetrated by the juveniles, such as speeding and blown stop signs.
The car chase continued through Little Valley into Bloomington Hills and then over by Desert Hills High School, reaching speeds of up to 50 mph, he said.
“An officer finally pulled in front of me and got the crazy kids,” Joens said, noting that he retrieved his stolen laser light.
St. George News confirmed with the St. George Police Department that the incident had occurred.
Two days later, on Nov. 29, Andrew Leclair posted on Facebook that sometime during the day or the previous night, one of his laser lights had been stolen off his property located near the Royal Oaks Park in St. George, approximately four blocks east of the Dixie Downs area.
“(I) spent all Friday making my first house amazing for my family and for others to enjoy,” only to have his laser lights stolen Leclair said in his post, adding: “Apparently, it’s becoming a big problem this time of year around St. George.”
Leclair advised people to be careful how they place their laser lights, making sure the lights aren’t too easily accessible to others from the street.
“Apparently the police department doesn’t do anything unless it’s over $1,500 which makes it a felony,” Leclair posted. “Otherwise you go online and fill out a freaking form.” A St. George Police log confirms that Leclair filed an online police report.
In his post, Leclair also issued a warning to thieves:
Mark my words, I’ll have another laser light up this weekend but I will have a metal pole sticking out of the ground behind it wired with 220 volts so I can find your dumb—.
Multiple Facebook users commented on Leclairs’ post, stating that they, too, had had their laser lights recently stolen from their homes in the St. George area.
A surge in online shopping means more merchandise is being delivered to homes, especially at Christmas.
Porch pirates are so named because they troll neighborhoods looking for unattended boxes, or they’ll simply follow delivery trucks and steal packages from porches in broad daylight.
“Apparently, someone has been following the UPS truck around the neighborhood and trying to nab the packages,” Katie Woods posted on Facebook earlier this month.
On Dec. 8, Woods said her grandmother, who resides in the Little Valley area, heard the UPS driver pull up, drop off packages at her house and drive off.
After her grandmother made her way into the doorway, Woods said, she saw a man exiting her courtyard with packages in hand, trying to make a getaway with them.
“If it wouldn’t have been for our noisy dogs and my quick-thinking grandma, the man would have gotten away,” Woods said, “but once she shouted at him and my dog ran up to him, he panicked and dropped the packages.”
It’s not a bad idea for people to have their packages sent to their work address where they know someone will be there to collect them during the day, Woods said, adding:
Just thought I’d let you know we have a cowardly thief around. He is scared of small dogs and old ladies, so there’s that, but if you’re not around he will take your packages.
People who work all day are easy targets, police said. Oftentimes, the homeowners don’t even know a parcel has been delivered.
Woods told St. George News that she believes her grandmother didn’t feel compelled to file a police report about the incident because the suspect ended up leaving the packages.
St. George resident Splendor Sargent said she is tired of people messing with her Christmas decorations and stacking her light-up Christmas deer in a lewd and lascivious way. It has occurred so often that, she said, the deer are now broken.
“It sounds funny but, really, it’s not,” she said.
Sargent posted the following message on Facebook:
To all the mean kids in my neighborhood and their parents … Do you enjoy Christmas lights? Do you enjoy having the Holiday spirit in your neighborhood? Do you like to feel safe in your neighborhood? Do you work hard for the things you have? Well guess what? So, do I! Please teach your kids and watch your kids that are messing with my stuff that I enjoy and that I work hard for. I enjoy the spirit of Christmas and I work very hard and pay a lot of money to have my home decorated.
When Sargent took to social media to post her rant, her post was saturated with comments from other community members relaying similar experiences and stating they no longer decorate or put Christmas items outside because they continue to get stolen, broken or messed with.
While Sargent didn’t file a police report, the nuisance has prompted her to have a trail camera installed in order to catch the perpetrators, in which case she said she will call the police and press charges.
Police suggest that homeowners take decorations in before they go to bed and invest in surveillance systems to detour the thefts. If the images are sharp enough, police can get a detailed description of the pirate or bandit and sometimes a license plate number.
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