Headlines » Crimes Against Christmas http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines The latest Headlines, news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers. Fri, 23 Jan 2015 16:55:28 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Video: Christmas Shopping Rush Dognapper http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/12/video-christmas-shopping-rush-dognapper/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/12/video-christmas-shopping-rush-dognapper/#comments Tue, 25 Dec 2012 18:03:42 +0000 Alyssa Newcomb http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=463506 abc wabc dog stolen ll 121225 wblog Video: Christmas Shopping Rush Dognapper

                                                                                               (Image Credit: ABC News)

A dognapper snatched a pet pooch from a New York City street as a little girl and her family were finishing up their holiday shopping.

The Christmas Eve crime happened in daylight and was captured on surveillance video.  A man can be seen in the video approaching Marley, a King Charles Spaniel, who was waiting patiently for his owners outside a Manhattan shop.

The man brazenly unhooked Marley’s leash, scooped the dog into his arms and walked away.

“Who would do this? It’s Christmas Eve! Tomorrow’s Christmas morning.” Mia Bendrat told WABC-TV on Monday.

The family is hoping for a Christmas miracle. Police have taken a copy of the surveillance video and the Bendrats have canvassed their Washington Heights neighborhood with flyers.

“He’s really fluffy and he’s so adorable that I can’t even trim my tree without him,” Bendrat said. “It’s like so hard to be without him.”


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Grinch Steals Christmas Care Packages Meant for Troops in Afghanistan http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/12/grinch-steals-christmas-care-packages-meant-for-troops-in-afghanistan/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/12/grinch-steals-christmas-care-packages-meant-for-troops-in-afghanistan/#comments Wed, 19 Dec 2012 11:00:46 +0000 Joshua Gardner http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=462655 ht christmas care packages ll 121218 wblog Grinch Steals Christmas Care Packages Meant for Troops in Afghanistan

                                                                                    (Image Credit: Move America Forward)

A Sacramento group that sends out hundreds of Christmas care packages to America’s troops serving abroad has fallen victim to a Grinch.

Dec. 17 was the cut-off day for Move America Forward to get 350 care packages to the post office with the guarantee they’d be there by Christmas. As the boxes sat in a trailer Dec. 16, waiting to be shipped the next day, some Christmas ne’er do well broke the trailer’s lock and stole 25 of the packages, all of them intended for soldiers in Afghanistan.

Scott Raab, outreach coordinator for Move America Forward, said the contents of the boxes were probably worth around $5,000, but the cost isn’t the issue. The care packages were intended to give soldiers a reminder of the comforts of home, he said. And, since the boxes were all individually addressed, there will be 25 soldiers going without this year.

“We pack pretty much everything in there,” Raab told ABCnews.com, “deodorant, coffee, candy. But also notes from school kids here at home thanking them for their service, Christmas cards, everything we can.”

Raab, who is himself a veteran of the U.S. Navy, said the packages really mean a lot to soldiers serving overseas who miss the creature comforts we take for granted at home.

“This can mean the whole world to these troops. We send packages year-round, but during the holidays it’s even more special. And we get some of the packages out to specific soldiers whose family is not able, for whatever reason, to send them anything.”

The packages were all clearly marked for military personnel and contain literature about Move America Forward, Raab said, so whoever the culprit is knows precisely who they’ve stolen from.

Raab is working with various organizations and accepting donations through MoveAmericaForward.org to replace the stolen items and help ensure the soldiers whose packages were stolen get their Christmas gifts, even if they are a few days late.

Though disappointed, Raab said he remains confident his organization will get all the losses covered.

“These people are the definition of a Grinch,” he said, “it is disheartening for those of us who worked so hard to get all these Christmas packages together. But we’ve had an overwhelming response from people wanting to help out and it just shows how much support there is out there for our troops.”

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Crimes Against Christmas: Grinchy Woman ‘Steals’ Trees, Sells Them, Pockets Cash http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/12/grinchy-woman-steals-christmas-trees-sells-them-and-pockets-cash/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/12/grinchy-woman-steals-christmas-trees-sells-them-and-pockets-cash/#comments Tue, 11 Dec 2012 20:05:49 +0000 Kevin Dolak http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=461587 abc tree thefts nt 121211 wblog Crimes Against Christmas: Grinchy Woman Steals Trees, Sells Them, Pockets Cash


A Washington state good Samaritan who sells Christmas trees for charity was left dumbfounded when a woman who did not work on his lot began selling his trees, then once caught absconded with the cash she’d made.

Justin Mayfield, 30, has opened Two-Five Trees in Tacoma every holiday season for the past three years to support the nonprofit organization he founded called Locallife, which works to promote neighborhood improvement across Tacoma.

Mayfield was surprised to learn last week that the lot of trees, which is left unattended for a part of the day so that it can be well-staffed when sales are prime, was invaded by a woman from about 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., who began to sell trees  to customers for $20 apiece.

“The lady went and walked down there, and was watching, and then started selling trees. She didn’t even bother to take down the signs!” Mayfield told ABCNews.com. “She was selling $80 Nobles for $20.”

Mayfield said that the woman, who has not been apprehended by police, even helped the people she sold the trees to load them into their cars. She was spotted when the afternoon staff arrived to work.

“Mayfield told ABCNews.com that his staff  members saw the perpetrator loading a tree into a car, and asked her where she got it. The woman told them that it was “some other lady.”

“[The perpetrator] walked with our guys back into the lot and said, ‘I guess she’s gone.’ Then another customer said, It’s her, she’s the lady selling the trees.’ Then the woman said, ‘Good luck proving it.’ Then she ran.”

The perpetrator, who Mayfield said was an African-American woman who looked to be in her 30s, was followed by the staff to the other side of the neighborhood, but they couldn’t catch her.

In the end, the woman sold about $500 worth of trees, for a profit of about $180. Though Mayfield has filed a police report, he said she eluded the lot’s security cameras.

“She was in a blind spot somehow,” he said. “I think we got a coattail.”

The tree sale site has now resumed hours in the morning, so there’s no gap between the morning and afternoon shifts.  It has also moved its security trailerfrom across the street into the middle of the lot.

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Toys for Tots Drive Robbed of Over $6K in Gifts http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/12/toys-for-tots-drive-robbed-of-over-6k-in-gifts/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/12/toys-for-tots-drive-robbed-of-over-6k-in-gifts/#comments Tue, 11 Dec 2012 18:26:55 +0000 Kevin Dolak http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=461574 abc komo toy thefts 121211 wblog Toys for Tots Drive Robbed of Over $6K in Gifts


Organizers of a Toys for Tots drive in Seattle have been left devastated after a Christmas Grinch broke into a facility storing over $6,000 worth of gifts for needy kids and stole nearly everything.

Nichelle Hilton, who works at the East Cherry Branch of the YWCA in Seattle, told ABCNews.com that last week she and her team purchased $6,250 worth of gifts at Toys ‘R’ Us. That’s $25 allotted for each of the 250 kids they’d been funded for through the local Rick Rizzs Toys for Kids program.

On Friday her team decided to store the toys in a temporary location at an unused homeless shelter unit while they waited for a truck. But when Hilton went to check on the toys on Monday, they were gone and all of the boxes had been torn to shreds.

“We’ve confirmed with everyone that the doors were locked,” Hilton said. “There are no signs, but all doors were wide open yesterday morning. We spent everything last week — the core 99.9 percent of the toys that were going to help all of the families.”

Police investigating the theft are now going through surveillance footage, but Hilton said that only includes the front of the building where the toys were stored, and there was a door open in the back. They’re also interviewing residents in the neighboring shelter homes, which Hilton said include young parents, domestic violence survivors and recent immigrants.

As they check online for people selling the toys, Hilton has been left wondering just what the thief will do with all of those gifts.

“I said, ‘How are you going to get money for that Easy Bake Oven?’ I wonder what’s going to happen next,” she said.

She is also focusing on securing the toys that have come in since the robbery with additional cameras and security personnel.

“The cost of protecting these toys, there’s no price limit for me,” she said.

Seattle Mariner broadcaster Rick Rizzs, who has been running fundraisers for toys for many years, promised that all of the stolen toys will be replaced, and Hilton said that they have received a lot of support from people in the area.

“The calls have been amazing,” she said. “People in the community have said they’re going to donate, bring in a Barbie. It shows that good always wins.”


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Grinch Videotaped Stealing Christmas Decorations http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/12/grinch-videotaped-stealing-christmas-decorations/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/12/grinch-videotaped-stealing-christmas-decorations/#comments Mon, 03 Dec 2012 19:18:48 +0000 Kevin Dolak http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=460463

A Texas man was caught by surveillance cameras stealing the holiday decorations from a front lawn in San Antonio this weekend.

In footage obtained by ABC affiliate KSAT, the man can be seen driving past the house in a white vehicle early on Sunday morning, then brazenly walking up to the house and making off with an inflatable sled and snowman.

The culprit then creeps back and snatches an inflatable train set and Santa Claus from the lawn. But that wasn’t all.

“He ran across the street to the other neighbor’s house, taking their inflatable sled, and ran back to his car,” a woman, who only identified herself as Diana, told KSAT. “Her snowman was also missing and they just put theirs out a couple nights ago.”

Diana said that she reported the theft to police, but she is not going to allow the local Grinch to ruin her Christmas. She says she reported the incident to help protect her neighbors.

“This can’t be left like that,” she said. “Other people need to be aware that this guy is out there.”

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Man Arrested After Telling Kids Santa Isn’t Real http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/11/man-arrested-after-telling-kids-santa-isnt-real/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/11/man-arrested-after-telling-kids-santa-isnt-real/#comments Sun, 25 Nov 2012 18:09:56 +0000 Alyssa Newcomb http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=459434 gty santa claus father christmas jt 121125 wblog Man Arrested After Telling Kids Santa Isnt Real

                                                                                                      (Image Credit: Getty Images)

A real-life Grinch was arrested after he spoiled the holiday cheer at a parade, telling children that Santa isn’t real.

The unidentified 24-year-old man, who had his hair gelled to look as though devil horns were protruding from his head, was arrested by police in the Canadian town of Kingston last week during the annual Santa Claus parade, authorities said in statement.

The St. Nicholas naysayer faces criminal charges of causing a disturbance by being drunk and breach of probation.

“It was pretty despicable that someone, during this time of the year, would tell kids Santa isn’t real — which of course we would argue,” Const. Steve Koopman told the Toronto Star.

It was not known how the man, who has surely landed on Santa’s naughty list, pleaded to the charges.

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Judge Rejects Suit by Christian Group for Nativity Display http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/11/christians-sue-santa-monica-over-nativity-display/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/11/christians-sue-santa-monica-over-nativity-display/#comments Mon, 19 Nov 2012 18:40:44 +0000 Colleen Curry http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=458925 ap santa monica atheist nativity damon vix ll 121119 wblog Judge Rejects Suit by Christian Group for Nativity Display

                                                                                         (Image Credit: Scott Head/AP Photo)

A federal judge today knocked down an attempt by a group of Christians to force the city of Santa Monica, Calif., to host their Nativity displays during the month of December.

The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee filed suit last month after the beachfront city pulled the plug on a 60-year tradition of holiday displays, which  gave rise to the city’s moniker of “The City of the Christmas Story,” according to court documents. The city had been overwhelmed with applications by atheists to set up their own displays during December, so officials abolished the practice altogether.

Today, U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins ruled against the Nativity Scenes Committee, according to The Associated Press. He reject its argument that the city was violating its members’ First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

William Becker, the attorney for the Christian group, told the AP he will appeal.

“The atheists won and they will always win unless we get courts to understand how the game is played and this is a game that was played very successfully and they knew it,” Becker said after the hearing, according to the AP.

The change came after an outspoken atheist set up his own display next to the nativity scene.

Atheist Damon Vix hung a sign three years ago reading “Religions are all alike – founded on fables and mythologies,” next to the Christmas nativity at a booth in Palisades Park, according to the suit. The other side read, “Happy Solstice.”

He then wrangled fellow atheists into applying for the booth spaces at Palisades Park,  leaving only two spaces for the traditional Christian nativity scenes during December 2011, according to the document.

After the holidays passed, the Santa Monica city council decided to abandon the tradition altogether, a decision the Nativity Scenes Committee hopes to reverse with the federal court decision expected today.

The group is made up of 13 area churches and the police officers’ union, according to the suit.





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Thieves Follow FedEx, Snatch Packages http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/04/thieves-follow-fedex-snatch-packages/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/04/thieves-follow-fedex-snatch-packages/#comments Tue, 24 Apr 2012 18:03:53 +0000 Jason M. Volack http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=329371

A Portland, Ore.-area man was stunned after thieves drove up to his front door, snatched several packages, and dashed away.

The incident happened all in a matter of minutes and it was all caught on camera.

ABC Affiliate KATU caught up with the victim, who identified himself as “Mark” because he didn’t want to share his true name.

Mark said he was tipped off the FedEx man was walking up his driveway last Friday when his two dogs started barking.  He tried calming the dogs, allowing the delivery man time to leave. A few minutes later when Mark went outside, the packages were gone.

What did remain was a trail of dog waste in the shape of footprints.

Confused, Mark consulted his home surveillance video and found that less than two minutes after the FedEx delivery man left, a car pulled up his driveway.

The grainy video shows a white woman with long blond hair jumping out of the passenger side of a decade-old Chrysler then snatching the packages and driving off.

The whole incident took less than 15 seconds.

“It was really well planned,” he told KATU.  ”Just amazed at how brazen this person was, to come down the driveway and snatch it like that.”

Lt. Steve Alexander, public information office for the Multnomah Co. Sheriff’s Office, says the theft is an isolated incident and they are still reviewing the surveillance tape for clues.

“Hopefully by putting this video out there the public will know who they are,” said Alexander.  ”It’s pretty brazen to drive right up and up and steal a package.”

When reached by phone, a FedEx spokeswoman expressed regret about the stolen packages.

“Porch pirating” reaches epidemic proportions around the holiday season. ABC News Correspondent Neal Karlinsky reported in December on thieves stealing presents right off front porches and coast-to-coast surveillance cameras catching them in the act.

The Postal Service estimates $16.5 billion in merchandise will be shipped in the month before Christmas, everything from computers to gift certificates. Karlinsky found that it’s not too hard to find waiting packages just sitting on porches, often for hours or even days.

To prevent future thefts, the FedEx spokesowman suggested that a shipper require a signature or send your package to a FedEx retail location and for pick up there.

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Is Kissing Under the Mistletoe Dated? http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/12/is-kissing-under-the-mistletoe-dated/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/12/is-kissing-under-the-mistletoe-dated/#comments Sat, 24 Dec 2011 12:00:09 +0000 Kevin Dolak http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=163941 gty mistletoe dm 111223 main Is Kissing Under the Mistletoe Dated?

The tree has been trimmed, the presents have been placed beneath it and chestnuts are roasting on an open fire as you relax and sip eggnog.  But  one item seems to be  missing from the holiday scenario this  season: a traditional branch of mistletoe hanging in the doorway.

A  massive drought in Texas is no doubt  a major contributing factor in the mistletoe shortage this year.

The  Texas drought has been described as one of the most crippling in the state’s history. Throughout October, parts of the Lone Star state, along with Oklahoma and Louisiana, experienced 50 to 70 percent “exceptional drought,” which is the worst form.

This has caused  much of this year’s mistletoe — a hemi-parasitic plant that grows on a wide range of host trees – to look weak and colorless. A higher price tag for the plants, coupled with dire economic times has led many to pass on this traditional holiday symbol.

Gardel Prudent of Gardel’s Greene Garden told The New York Times that it would have cost approximately $5 for a finger-size sprig, and that the profit margin is so thin that it’s not worth selling. He did not order any mistletoe this year, he said.

Still, many florists said that  despite the steep price, demand for the specialty plant is just not what it used to be.

Perhaps  the kissing under the mistletoe custom — which originated in Scandinavia –  has become dated and will soon become history.

“It does seem to be fading out,”  said longtime florist Georgeann Strakosch of Big Apple Florist in New York. “Even when I was at a place that had it we didn’t sell it much.

“They don’t move very quickly,” Strakosch continued. “I don’t get a lot of requests, maybe two calls a year.” Strakosch  no longer stocks mistletoe, and she’s not the only one.

“I stopped selling it a couple of years ago. I don’t get a big call for it,” Lee Herman of Palace Florists in Washington, D.C. told ABC News. “The wholesale isn’t that expensive, but to throw out a bunch of boxes is. It’s Dec. 22, and I’ve only gotten one call for it.”

“I think it’s losing its story, fading out a little,” a clerk at Ballard Blossom Inc. in Seattle   told ABC News. “We don’t carry it. … Two people have asked for it out of hundreds we help each day.”

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Smashing Christmas: Vandals Batter Holiday Decor http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/12/smashing-christmas-vandals-batter-holiday-decor/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/12/smashing-christmas-vandals-batter-holiday-decor/#comments Fri, 23 Dec 2011 20:31:32 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=164161 While elaborate lighting displays are making the season extra merry for delighted onlookers, not everyone is in the holiday spirit: three Christmas displays in different places in the country have been trashed by vandals this month.

  • Grinches tossed the baby Jesus from a nativity scene onto a homeowner’s driveway and battered other decorations in a subdivision in Milton, Ga.
  • In Port Charlotte, Fla., someone knocked over a lighting display in the shape of a Christmas tree and wreaked other havoc in a couple’s front yard.
  • And at a Fairfax Station, Va. home, surveillance cameras captured footage of two young men using baseball bats and their car to destroy holiday decor, causing at least an estimated $6,000 in damages.

Watch footage of vandals in action below and see the full story on “20/20″ tonight at 10 p.m. ET.


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