SURREY â€” Thieving grinches aren’t going to spoil Charyle Erickson’s Christmas, but they sure gave it a try.
"You’re not going to break my spirit," she vowed.
More than a thousand dollars in Christmas display gear was swiped from her front yard in Fleetwood early Sunday morning, including a big inflatable Santa, a smaller one, a Santa sleigh and reindeer, a bunch of plugs, and a Frosty snowman her family "hunted high and low for."
When it comes to Easter, Halloween and Christmas displays, the Ericksons like to go big, and people come from far and near to check out their work.
"We decorate big-time," Erickson said. It’s done largely in tribute to her dad Ken, who died of a heart attack 18 years ago. He also decorated big-time, sparing no expense.
"My dad was Viva Las Vegas Christmas," she said. "You could see his house from a block away, it was crazy."
And so, she said, "We do the same thing. It makes us feel good."
Erickson figures the thieves "tore everything and ran" sometime between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday, and likely would have needed a vehicle to haul it all away.
When her husband Harold discovered the theft, Erickson said, he was reduced to tears. It was especially difficult for him to set up this year’s display, she said, on account of his hand being badly injured in a carpentry mishap at work.
"We’ve been doing this for 18 years," she said, in Nova Scotia, Langley, and for the past three years in Surrey. This is the first year anything was stolen.
"How do people do these things? I don’t understand it," Erickson said. "The grandchildren are really upset."
She said the Surrey RCMP told her there had been five similar thefts in Surrey that same night, but there was not much they can do about it seeing as the ornaments aren’t engraved.
The Ericksons, therefore, are offering a $500 reward for the return of their display gear.
"It would be great if they would return it," she said. "They know who they are." She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet noted that when people put their belongings out on their front lawn, thieves can’t resist helping themselves.
"We see it every year," he said. "It’s just sad. This is a crime of opportunity happening throughout the region and the holidays bring exactly that for thieves, an opportunity.
"While there is little that can be done to prevent such thefts from happening," Paquet said, "we recommend that residents do not encourage these thieves by buying suspicious Christmas-related ornaments at a price ‘too good to be true,’ or from suspicious people. Also, sellers should be able to produce a receipt when they are actually selling legitimate items, whether Christmas-related or not.
"If all of a sudden your ‘less than honest’ neighbour finds himself in possession of a large quantity of Christmas items for sale," Paquet added, "give us a call and we’ll dispatch a sleigh and a couple of Santa’s helpers to go and investigate. Seriously, this is a good reminder for everyone to observe and report suspicious people or activity in their neighbourhood."