PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – Unfortunately ‘tis the season, police say, for having Christmas decorations stolen out of your yard. There’ve already been several reports of it happening in areas of northern Pinellas County with at least one arrest made.
“I just couldn't’t believe someone had actually stole the decorations out of our yard,” said Cindy Meyer, whose Safety Harbor home’s front yard is filled with nearly a dozen inflatable decorations.
Last Saturday morning she discovered three had been swiped overnight.
“Our kids absolutely love these,” she said. “They come out every night and hug these inflatables goodnight, give them high fives.”
While her young children were devastated, Meyer said she quickly called police to file a report even though she admits she “felt a little silly” calling about a missing decoration.
But to her surprise, deputies from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office later responded and took it seriously.
“They actually got a set of prints off of Snoopy off his electrical plug,” she said.
Meyer said it wasn’t just the thought of having the inflatables stolen—which are worth several hundred dollars—that bothered her most.
“Somebody coming into my yard and stealing things is one step away from my front door and coming into my house,” she said.
But it didn’t take long for someone to spot the missing decorations just a few miles away.
Police showed up to the house of 30-year-old Michael Fitzjarrell after getting the tip to question him about some of the inflatable decorations in his front yard. At first he denied stealing the decorations before eventually admitting he was “drunk” when he took them, which was “a bad choice.”
Fitzjarrell is now facing charges of grand theft due to the high value of the inflatables taken.
“I’m not sure what he was thinking,” Meyer said.
But now Meyer is thinking they’ll be taking extra precautions from here on out by doing the following:
- Using some sort of locking mechanism or a chain to run around the directions.
- Putting identifying marks on the bottoms to ensure if something does go missing police can easily identify it and return it.
Police agree and also suggest video surveillance cameras act as a good deterrent for would-be thieves.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says these types of incidents are “typical” this time of year and it's the unfortunate risk people run by placing valuable decorations outside of their home.
Since the start of the month, PCSO has received three others reports of stolen decorations on the north end of the country.
Clearwater police say they are also investigating after a woman recently reported having an inflatable Olaf snowman stolen from her front yard. Detectives are working to determine if it’s connected to the theft in Safety Harbor.
They encourage anyone who has their decorations stolen to call police.
►Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the 10 News app now.
© 2018 WTSP-TV