Blue Grass officers get proactive after Walcott becomes latest community hit by Grinch


WALCOTT, Iowa (KWQC) — The Grinch strikes again. Another QCA community has seen Christmas lights stolen, this time from several locations. That’s prompting some officers to put out a warning, and ideas to help you protect you and your property.

The latest community to be hit, Walcott, Iowa. At a city park there, you’ll see big, red, glittering bows and golden bells on the gazebo, along with a life-sized snwoman wrapped in garland. But something’s missing. And residents say they can’t believe someone would steal from the display set up by a community organization for the community to enjoy.

“We want the town to be festive,” Lisa Mengler tells us. She’s a chairperson of the Walcott Day Committee, which raises money to fund the display. It’s a tradition at Welcome Park, surrounded by dozens of decorated homes.

“You get that old town feeling,” Mengler says. “Hey, it’s Christmas. Time to celebrate, bring the community together. You know, take your kids out, drive around.” In this town of 1,600, residents come together to make sure there’s something to see.

Mengler says, “There was a group of about nine of us that worked on a Saturday morning. Put all the Christmas lights up, went out to purchase new stuff to put up, and stuff like that.” This year that stuff included new laser lights. “It just projects onto the tree and puts little sparky lights on the tree,” Mengler tells us.

But she says a recent trip through town showed no sparkle . “I was driving by with my daughter in the car during the day and I said, it looks like our laser lights are missing. Later that night, my husband and I drove by and the tree was not luminated. He and another member in the community went out the next day and looked, and they had been taken.”

So had lights at a handful of homes. And it’s not just happening in Walcott. A Davenport family captured a thief stealing lights on surveillance video a week ago. And last month, a Colona family tell us someone vandalized a display, after they had already stolen Baby Jesus from the Nativity.

Blue Grass Police Sgt. Garrett Jahns says there could be several reasons. “It could be the fact that they don’t like Christmas. It could be the fact that they think they need Christmas lights in their yard and they like their neighbors’.”

He says while his city has seen damage, there have been no thefts yet. But officers are being proactive, asking resident to label lights or pricey inflatables using an engraver, label maker or sharpie. “I always thought it would be something like higher value items, stereos, televisions, stuff like that,” Jahns says. “Never in a million years would I have ever thought to have to stop a Christmas caper like that.”

Lisa Mengler never thought she’d be dealing with something like this either. She tells us, “It just breaks your heart.”

She tells us the Walcott Day Committee also raised money, hoping to put illuminated wreaths up on Main street lamposts, lighting the way into the city. But she says at this point, members will have to talk about whether they want to do that, whether they want to risk putting up more decorations thieves may just take down.

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