There’s a Thief Out There

My daughter, aged 12, loves Halloween. It’s always been her favorite holiday. Since she was a toddler, we’ve decorated our front porch and front yard for Halloween. This year, we went all out: we bought a larger-than- life-sized plastic skeleton for $40 from Target and hung it from a tree in our front yard, half a block up the hill from Chester Creek Cafe. This morning, my daughter and her father prepared to set up the coup de grace for our very cool front yard Halloween display: strobe lights.But they discovered that the skeleton had been stolen overnight. Who would be so low as to steal from a child, and destroy her Halloween display? My daughter is devastated, that someone would actually enter her yard and steal the skeleton she put up to celebrate the holiday. It was also something that would take some work to do, as it was hung from a tree pretty high up from the ground. How can such a thief live with himself or herself, knowing that they stole the skeleton they now own and are probably displaying in their dorm room or off-campus housing? This is the kind of vicious stunt perpetuated on local families that gives — rightly or wrongly — the students living in the neighborhoods near UMD a bad rap.

UPDATE: I closed the comments to this thread — and accidentally deleted an OP comment in doing so, but it was made by a troll so I’m not too bent out of shape about my inadvertent act of censorship. While many who both supported me *and* disagreed with me had intelligent and thoughtful things to say, it was obvious that the thread was being hijacked.

48 Comments

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

Claire, no one likes to have their things stolen, but on the list of items that potentially could be taken from you, I would think a skeleton from your front lawn would be the easiest to part with.

You had my sympathy until, with no evidence, you decided to implicate students. I'm hoping you'll take a deep breathe and rethink that.

You got tricked instead of treated. Pranks and stunts are a part of Halloween. I'm sure whoever stole the skeleton didn't do it to break your daughter's heart. But it sucks that it did.

calk

about 10 years ago

You know, Paul, you are right. I have no evidence it was a student who stole our skeleton. It's just an assumption on my part. And, it's sad, based on my own past experience, and based on others in my neighborhood, that I would immediately assume rightly or wrongly that it was some drunk-off-his-or-her-ass student thinking it was cool to ruin someone's Halloween display -- not realizing, or just not caring -- that he or she stole from a child and has deprived trick-or-treaters of seeing and enjoying what would have been a cool display.

Hillsider Newspaper editor

about 10 years ago

I don't think it was a "vicious stunt." It was a prank.

We had our American flag stolen four times. Who would steal an American flag ... a really patriotic person, or an unpatriotic person?

We never knew who stole the first three, but while walking our dog one afternoon, we did find the fourth flag a neighbor's porch five houses down the street. We knew it was ours because of a special tape-marking we put on it. 

If it isn't chained down, you will probably lose it. If you can't afford to loose it, monetarily or emotionally ... don't put it outside.

davids

about 10 years ago

I'm glad Paul spoke up about the student-be-the-thief claim -- that's the kind of knee-jerk blaming of "outsiders" for all ills that makes communities suspicious and closed to new energy. 

Allegations...allegations...allegations. The fact that you would "rightly or wrongly" assume it was students says only something about your state of mind, not really anything about students.

And BTW, I do feel for your daughter. My son had a pedal car taken in the night near the same neighborhood as where you live, and he was pretty heart hurt, too. But it was at least partially our fault for leaving it outside one night. That's unfortunately part of urban life.

calk

about 10 years ago

Paul and Naomi, you call it a prank. I call it theft. I'm not looking for sympathy, I've had far worse things happen to me in life -- like losing family members, friends, pets. But I just feel for my kid, especially since I told her father earlier this weekend to take in the skeleton Saturday night so no one would make off with it.  

I'm just ticked that some jerk would ruin it for a kid and for everyone else b/c they're too cheap or too lazy to go to the damn store and buy their own damn skeleton. What if everyone decided not to decorate their houses on holidays for fear someone would ruin it? I just hate people who are jerks for no good reason (as opposed to people who are jerks for good reason). 

Claire

Danny G

about 10 years ago

You don't happen to have a recording of the argument between you and the old man after the skeleton was found to be missing and the debacle could have been prevented if he just would have brought it in, would you?  If so, I would love to hear it.

Also, as much as I genuinely feel bad for your kid in this situation, this thread is some great entertainment for me.  It's like I've been handed a Halloween treat.

Sam

about 10 years ago

I think we have enough evidence to say that it would be unsurprising to find out that a student did it.  There are a ton of students in that neighborhood, and they tend to get drunk and silly on Halloween.  It can be tough having kids and living in a student neighborhood.

Hillsider Newspaper editor

about 10 years ago

I do feel for you. I am not saying it is right. It can get expensive, we kept getting cheaper and cheaper quality of flags. 

It can be frustrating to try to have nice things or keep your yard nice. 

We also had nice hanging plants stolen. At between $20 to $30 a pop for a nice hanging plants, and we usually had more than one, it can get expensive too. 

Bikes, plants, flags, all have a way of walking off. 

We figured out ways to chain, wire, or weight things down so that it is too much work for a thief.

Yeah, I would be mad, disappointed and frustrated.

Danny G

about 10 years ago

I have another theory on who the culprit of heinous crime might be.  Perhaps it was a good, politically conscious person who is upset with your purchase of the skeleton from Target, a company that has provided financial backing to the gay-bashing monster Tom Emmer.

calk

about 10 years ago

Good advice, Naomi, thanks. I told the kid we should make a papier mache skeleton next year. 

Our yard signs got vandalized last night too -- but that's par for the course. I do find it annoying, though, because even though I don't like the Cow Chip Cravaack signs and especially those oversized political yard signs touting various candidates, I wouldn't steal them. God almighty.

zra

about 10 years ago

Old campaign signs make great kid art canvas material when covered in white paint. Hazey and I are gonna try a collage this winter.

Lojasmo

about 10 years ago

It's because you live in a slum.

Aaaaahahahaha.  Kidding.  I sort of like that neighborhood.

/don'tkillme

Danny G

about 10 years ago

Yet another theory: maybe the theft was done by a person who is the victim of Tim Pawlenty's irresponsible economic policies and could no longer afford yard skeletons for their family to enjoy.  Where is your compassion, C?

Rebecca Hartong

about 10 years ago

It wasn't a "prank." It was theft. And it's not partly your fault because you left it out. A person should be able to leave things out in their own yard without worrying about them being stolen. This is just the sort of thing that makes me generally hate most people. Thieves and the sort of people who excuse thievery -- loathsome jerks all.

sparhawk

about 10 years ago

Hurray! Another chance to come on and say something witty and contrary to see if I can get a rise out of someone!

Eric Chandler

about 10 years ago

David S,
"It's partially my fault"? "And that's just part of urban life"? YGBSM. 

Come on people. Theft is theft. 

If we let them steal our skeletons, the terrorists win.

Lojasmo

about 10 years ago

Shut up, sparhawk.

Danny G

about 10 years ago

We at dannydoesduluth.com are offering a reward of $5 for the safe return of C's yard skeleton.

David

about 10 years ago

I can't believe you leapt to the assumption that students did it.  The "rightly or wrongly" is no cover for a suspect presumption.  

I had a plastic skeleton hanging outside my apartment on 20th and Jefferson, a neighborhood crammed with students, many of whom use my yard as a shortcut to the Reef, for two years (yes, I am lethargic and lazy) without incident or loss).  

I lament both your loss and your inability to look beyond insular presumptions.  Students are, surprisingly, a lot like everyone else.

Joel S

about 10 years ago

In my youth, I enjoyed perpetrating the occasional prank.  One of the first rules of pranksterdom, though, is that it must be reversable. Getting your trees toilet papered is a pain in the butt, but it is reversable.  Stealing Halloween decorations is something entirely different.  Those defending this "prank" obviously don't have kids.  And they obviously haven't considered that if you steal people's Halloween decorations sooner or later no one will want to decorate at all.

On the college student issue-- in the vast majority of cases, I've had good interactions with the students in the neighborhood, and on the whole I like having students in the neighborhood mix.  There is a small number, however, who seem to actually get off on being anti-social-- I'm talking about the "free breast exams" crowd.  It is no coincidence that political yardsigns mysteriously vanish in huge numbers in our neighborhood the first weekend that the UMD students get back.  (Another "prank," I guess.)  So, of course, there's no way to know for sure, but it is a pretty good guess as to what happened in this case.

Danny

about 10 years ago

Joel, nobody is defending this "prank." Period.

jessige

about 10 years ago

So, you don't have any high school kids living in your neighborhood?  Cause I'm pretty sure that the college kids I know are either 1) too busy working and studying to have time to take your skeleton or 2) too busy getting drunk and having fun to rip off a skeleton.  It seems to me that that kind of stealing is more akin to the pumpkin-smashing days of old--which tends to be perpetuated by 15 year olds who lack supervision, not 22 year olds who have an overabundance of beer in their bellies.

I get that people who live in neighborhoods with students have trouble with them.  Really, I do.  I live near college kids, too, and sometimes it's a serious pain in the ass.  And I'm really sorry that your daughter's holiday got wrecked.  That sucks a lot.  But good God almighty.  

Maybe it's the UMD students' fault that the lake is heating up, too...in fact, has anyone researched the relationship between the return of the UMD students (because clearly, there are no other colleges or universities in this town) and the change of the seasons?!  I've noticed a definite decrease in the temperature when they come back in August--and then when they come back in January, it starts to get warmer!  

Facetiousness aside, if the same comment had been made substituting the words "African-Americans" for "students", there'd be an uprising.  And rightfully so.  Stereotyping is stereotyping.  And hypocrisy is hypocrisy, too.

Danny

about 10 years ago

Update on my reward campaign: I have found some loose change in my sofa.  We at dannydoesduluth.com are now offering a reward of $5.72 for the safe return of C's yard skeleton.  Let us not let this heinous crime go unsolved!

Carla

about 10 years ago

Stuff like that gets stolen in our neighborhood.  Replacing the colored strings of lights on the deck of Chester got really tedious - I finally gave up.

However - on the amazingly bright side - FedEx mistakenly delivered an expensive computer to our front porch instead of to Chester and it sat there for days while we were in Texas clearly labeled Hewlett Packard and no one took it!!!

So this must not be too much of a ghetto. We are mostly Democrats tho'. :>)

Carla

about 10 years ago

PS: I will match and double Danny's reward offer.

doubledutch

about 10 years ago

That's unfortunate, but I'm really surprised at your proposed solution of *making* a skeleton next year.  I would be way more bummed about having something stolen that my kid and I spent time making together, versus something I bought at Target (even if it was $40).  

I will admit that I kind of thought, "what do you expect?" because when I put pumpkins on the steps, every day that I wake up and they're still there, I think it's a freaking miracle.  However, it is stealing, and it does suck, and I would be really put off if someone told me I should have expected, say, my unlocked house to get burglarized, or my kids' bikes to get stolen from our unlocked garage, or money to get stolen from my purse that sits on the floor of my unlocked office all day.

Maybe next year, make your paper mache skeleton and fill it with eggs and poop and other stinky, nasty stuff.  Then you will be super happy when it gets stolen.

eco eco

about 10 years ago

It not only takes time to make a skeleton by stripping away all the flesh, but killing someone just so you can have a decoration is a pretty serious prank.

woodtick

about 10 years ago

Not having read one dang post above other than the sparhawk lob, could this be the work of the sTEAl Partiers?

davids

about 10 years ago

In my earlier comment I didn't mean to imply that I think it's okay to steal (skeletons, pedal cars, yard signs, etc.). Simply pointing out that some people will feel they can get away with taking things left outside at night. It's an unhappy part of what we've been dealt as people living in a large-scale, often anonymous, unequal society. 

I was simply agreeing with "Hillsider Newspaper editor's" comment:
"If it isn't chained down, you will probably lose it. If you can't afford to loose it, monetarily or emotionally ... don't put it outside."

If we'd stayed in the economic system of nomadic foraging, we wouldn't have stuff to get stolen, so (like Jared Diamond of Guns, Germs and Steel fame) we can blame it on the invention of agriculture!

calk

about 10 years ago

Thanks for your feedback, everybody. I want to make it clear that I understand that I'm a fool if I leave something of value outside and it gets stolen. Duh. 

Ironically, I have boxes of books delivered to me all the time, and sometimes left on my porch. To me and to many others, these books are far more valuable than a lousy skeleton. But, who would steal a box of books, right? And, like Carla wrote, something of great value was left for days on her porch, untouched, for days.

The point I'm trying to make, and some of you picked up on, is my kid is trying to tap into her community, and make our street a little more colorful, by putting up a Halloween display. And some jerk has to ruin that -- for her, for her parents, for everybody going by our house.

 I know someone who stopped putting up her holiday display b/c some jerk stole one of the Three Kings. What if we all just stop trying to bring a little cheer into others's lives, b/c we don't want our decorations stolen? Why can't the person or persons involved who get off on stealing someone's holiday decorations get it through their skulls that they're not just stealing from an individual, they're also stealing something that belongs to our entire community?

It's like picking flowers in the Rose Garden. Who would be such a jerk as to do that, when it's something that should be enjoyed by all of us? 

Claire

jessige

about 10 years ago

I do agree with that, Claire.  And I think it starts with parents.  Your daughter's never going to steal something from someone's yard (not that she would have anyway), because you're an engaged parent.  I had parents who were involved in my life, and whether I was 8 or 18, I wouldn't have done that either.  If we teach our kids that sense of community, then when they become young adults, the instances of disrespect that range from skeleton-stealing to drunk-B&E will go away.  

High school students, college students, random anybodies--it doesn't matter who they are.  If they weren't taught the appropriate way to behave as part of a community, they won't understand.  That's how we fix it, I think.  We get involved, and we show our children and the children we come into contact with the way to behave in community.

Danny

about 10 years ago

Greatest PDD thread EVER!

Duncan

about 10 years ago

I think it's obvious that you and your daughter have learned some valuable life lessons. Although you both desperately wish to be part of a community, it's clear that the people living around you can't be trusted. Whomever committed this crime against your family could be ANYONE you know... maybe even a dear friend. You have no choice but to regard everyone with suspicion and contempt, and if you suspect someone might have their greedy little eyeballs on your upcoming Christmas yard trash, I'd get them before they get you.

Ben

about 10 years ago

Carla,

Please make sure that the computer on your front desk isn't postmarked "Yemen."

Claire

about 10 years ago

Duncan, I'm so glad I don't see the world through your eyes.

Zacaroo

about 10 years ago

Yikes...another UMD bashing thread? What would each week be without one?

How many of your daughter's teachers have graduated from UMD or any of the other schools in the area? How about people working for the city, they needed an education too? The restaurants your family eats at? Those surely have college students working at them. 

Having you be so outraged and upset at these students does no good. Have you done anything about getting to know these neighbors? Maybe the nicest people you've met are living next door and you might even find a new babysitter (but those kids probably attend CSS or LSC, right?).

Claire

about 10 years ago

Zacaroo -- I did not mean this to be a UMD-bashing thread. I know a lot of cool students and former students. My student neighbors on my block are cool. Hell, Mr. Claire is a college prof, so students are putting food in my child's mouth. 

I just have a problem with assholes, who think it's OK to steal holiday decorations from someone's house. The **theft** happened on a Saturday night. 19th Avenue East is a main route for students walking between campus and various parties. Natural for me to assume it was a group of drunk-off-their-ass frat-boy-types who would also think it's funny to hold up offensive signs on the streets leading up to UMD when parents are dropping off first-years at the end of summer.

I assure you, I don't suspect my neighbors of this crime -- I know who they are and they know a kid lives in our house and most probably was the creative force behind our Halloween display.

David

about 10 years ago

Claire, you usually strike me as a reasonable voice on these threads.  Not tonight.

Katy

about 10 years ago

This is totally off topic as far as the theft is concerned but, I noticed the OP mention putting up strobe lights outside and I'd like to caution her and anyone else against doing so. 

Strobe lights have the potential to trigger seizures in people with epilepsy and other seizure disorders. 

http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/about/photosensitivity/

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/06/mias-new-websit/

Danny

about 10 years ago

Wait...now you know who it is that committed this crime?  How?  And if you do why don't you or "Mr. Claire" just confront them?  Grow a pair, already!

Farragut

about 10 years ago

I understand what you are going through Claire, someone stole one of my daughter's riding toys in our yard a few months back. 

Who really knows who took it, but it is still a crime whether it is a "prank" or someone who actually wanted it.

ian

about 10 years ago

I'm taking this time to bitch about what has been stolen from my car and house in last couple years in the woodland/hillside area:

Climbing gear.
Our Moped.
Cruiser bike.  
Mountain bike.
VW rim with new tire.
Roomies bmx bike.

I am just pissed that I forget to chain stuff down and left a backpack of gear in plain sight (pass. seat of my locked car) for almost an hour.  Never leave anything unlocked or in plain sight, invest in some cables/chains and lock it down if you want to keep it.

Claire

about 10 years ago

Ian, you really don't get it, don't you? Stealing a kid's holiday decoration has nothing to do with monetary value, it has to do with the fact that I think people should be able to put up holiday decorations and not have to worry that some asshole is going to run off with part of it, because they think it's "funny" or whatever. Stealing a skeleton or one of Three Kings (as happened to my friend on the other side of UMD from me) or smashing pumpkins or some such antisocial "prank" is a lot different than stealing someone's bike or their moped. It's still theft, but it's also tearing at the fabric of a community. Do you really want to live in a place where people have to lock up or chain down their holiday decorations? How sad. Your attitude towards life is pretty damn depressing.

Danny

about 10 years ago

"Stealing a skeleton...tearing at the fabric of a community."


BRILLIANT!

ian

about 10 years ago

Claire - I just accept things the way they are/as I see them.  I wouldn't call that depressing.  People in general are inherently as dumb as a bag of hair, just add some booze and a couple buddies, then things get out of hand and stuff gets trashed/stolen.

Claire

about 10 years ago

Ian, you and I can agree on that, some people really are dumb and worse when you add booze and buddies. 

I just expect people to be a little more respectful of holiday decorations, for crying out loud. It's like, the Bentleyville people wanting to brighten people's lives with their decorations, or Marcia Hale's holiday display, inviting people into her back yard to view. It'd totally suck if some assholes ruined either of those displays. Or stole something out of Hale's yard when she's opened it to people to view her display.

What if everyone just said, fine, let's not put up decorations? It'd be pretty damn depressing. The assholes would win.

Jenkes

about 10 years ago

After reading all of this, I can't help thinking your daughter is probably so over this. Your the one obsessing! Next time put a cable lock on your outside things. Unfortunately this is the world we live in today. Get over it.

calk

about 10 years ago

Hey Jenkes, I am simply responding to OPs -- like you -- who insist on putting in your two cents. It's actually a pain in the ass, b/c I have other things to do, and the quality of OP comments -- with some exceptions -- is deteriorating quickly, making me consider just putting the cabosh on this "discussion" before this thread becomes totally hijacked by trolls.

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