Every neighborhood has that one house that goes a little wonderfully overboard with its Christmas decorations.
In Centennial, Colo., the Stricker family’s “Winter Wonderland” is that house. The display, covered in glittering lights, inflatable statues, giant candy canes and reindeer figures, was a winner in the Denver Post’s 2015 Holiday Lights Contest. Santa himself even comes to visit every once in a while, Joe Stricker wrote on Facebook.
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But the Stricker family’s holiday spirit took a hit over the weekend after they noticed some of their decorations were disturbed. They checked the surveillance footage of their front yard, and what they saw made their hearts drop.
Shortly after midnight, three people pulled up to the house and began ripping apart some of the decorations, Sticker wrote on Facebook. Video shows the vandals tearing apart stakes and lights and throwing them into the street. Eventually, one person shoved a 3-foot-tall dinosaur wearing a Santa hat into a sedan and the three sped off.
“Like watching the news, but in my front yard. It saddens me that I am even having to say this but this actually happened,” Stricker wrote on Facebook.
Stricker filed a police report and posted the video to Facebook, where it was shared hundreds of times. “I have made a police report but now I want to put these low life individuals on display in hopes that someone might have some information leading to them. Thanks to anyone in advance who might have any info,” he wrote.
Just a short time later, the video reached the right person. Someone recognized one of the suspects in the video as the adult son of his brother, and sent the video to the dad, according to KUSA. The dad recognized his son in the video - and immediately boarded a plane to Colorado to ask him to apologize.
It worked. Within hours, the culprits were back at the house, repentant and ready to accept the consequences, KUSA reported.
“After a long and emotionally draining day with an overwhelming amount of social media shares and support, the individuals who stole and vandalized our Decorations came to our house tonight to make amends,” Stricker wrote on Facebook. “Accompanied by their equally embarrassed and ashamed parents these individuals restored our faith in humanity. They took complete responsibility for their actions and accepted whatever consequences we felt was just.”
The individuals were all adults in their 20s, Stricker wrote, so his family decided to press charges - though they asked for fines, not jail time, Stricker told KUSA.
“Throughout this entire process the individuals were incredibly gracious, kind and completely understanding of our decision. They agreed that the right thing to do was to turn themselves in and take full responsibility for their actions,” Stricker wrote on Facebook. “We feel incredibly blessed to be supported by so many people. fair punishment agreed upon by both parties.”
The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office cited three people, who were not named, for the crime, reported the Colorado Springs Gazette.