TAMPA – Really? The better question: Why? Why would you steal a holiday decoration that can cost as little as $20? It seems cruel given the "holiday spirit" we’re supposed to be embracing.
Law enforcement officials from Pinellas County all the way down to southwest Florida say they’re getting reports of thieves stealing Christmas laser light displays.
It’s not the first time decorations have become a must-have for crooks.
Vance McIlwaine has decked his yard out since 1982 and says over the years he’s been the victim of “decoration theft.”
In his yard he has wooden deer, elves, tinsel, twinkling lights, a sleigh, a wooden Santa, candy canes and more.
“I just keep on doing it. I do a little bit each day, keep on going,” he explained.
His process now includes protecting his winter wonderland. It’s hard to see, but there are traps for the unsuspecting burglar.
“Now I put fish line around and if they're going to steal one (decoration) they're gonna have to take them all. They’ll pull them all down and that'll wake me up,” said McIlwaine.
But some decorations, like his laser light, he just can’t tie down.
We took in laser light displays across Tampa. Each home was beautiful showered in twinkling stars. The gadget providing the amazing show wasn’t as stunning itself. And it's an easy grab: unplug it, take the stake out of the ground and go.
McIlwaine says it’s not necessarily the item thieves want.
“People, you know, people get excited. They want to steal things.”
The reality is that when it comes to laser lights intended to light up your home there’s something more serious and dangerous.
Each year authorities warn homeowners to be careful where they point those lights. Lasers can be seen from the sky. And if pointed upward, that laser can even temporarily blind a pilot.
(© 2016 WTSP)