Thieves steal holiday decorations around Hillsborough Co.

- A week before Christmas, some people around Hillsborough County have lost a bit of their holiday cheer.

That's because thieves are stealing lights right from their yards.

It's happening all around the country.

One woman whose Brandon yard was targeted has posted a strongly-worded message to the thief.

December at Linda Radtke's home is an event in itself.

"We love Christmas," Radtke said. "It's a joy for me to decorate."

She doesn't have one Christmas tree.

She has five.

"I have a chili pepper tree, our large one, I have one that's totally Santa Clauses," Radtke said.

The large one is adorned with ornaments, each one, a memory of a vacation or special moment in her family's lives.

"It has 900-plus ornaments on it, maybe a few more because I just got some yesterday," Radtke said.

Imagine the coal in her stocking when a thief helped themselves to her prized yard decoration: the Star Shower laser lights.

"I felt really upset. I felt mad. I felt angry," Radtke said. "The fact that somebody would come in my yard on my space and take one of my things. Any time would be bad. But, this time of year? It was just like a slap in the face."

Radke decided to send the criminal a public message, whoever they are.

She posted a sign outside her home, writing:

"To the person who stole our Christmas lights... you must be really desperate to ruin someone's holiday. So, in the spirit with which you believe, I hope the lights guide Santa to your house and his reindeer stomp on your head and his sleigh runs over your grinchy self."

"I want them to know how angry I am and how they violated our space," Radtke said. "It might not be other people's version of Christmas spirit but you put a dent in mine."

She's not alone.

Sunday night, someone stole two $50 Star Showers from two neighboring Riverview homes.

"The guy did it like he had no worry about getting caught at all," said Marc Prewitt.

But the thief did get caught on Prewitt's surveillance cameras.

It shows the person stopping first at Prewitt's home, taking one light display.

Then, the person walks next-door and does the same.

"They knew exactly what they were doing," Prewitt said. "He had a bag in his hand. He was ready to go. He had that thing in your if the ground quicker than I could've had it out of the ground and I put it in."

"Whoever did this deserves to caught," said Dene Valen. "At this time of year, they shouldn't be doing this. It's wrong."

Radtke has since replaced the stolen lights.

And, if the greedy grinch creeps back for seconds, it won't be so easy.

"It is now tacked and zip tied and drilled into a cement block," Radtke said. "And, the cords are tacked underneath the ground so if someone tried to take it now, I think they'll get a rude surprise."

If you know anything about who's behind these thefts, or recognize the guy in the surveillance video, give the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office a call.

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