The New Year did not start out right for a slew of residents who woke up to find their outdoor Christmas displays vandalized.
Vandals targeted two San Juan Capistrano neighborhoods along Calle Arroyo in the Mission tracts area – Mission Glen and Mission Creek, said resident Monte Johnson, who followed a trail of his homemade candy canes from street to street to street.
“They used one of my candy canes to beat the crap out of a mailbox” down the street, Johnson said. He deduced this because he found pieces of his 3-foot-tall candy canes scattered on the ground.
Johnson counted close to 20 homes hit on Sunday.
The Calle del Campo home of Kimberly Kristoffersen Harden, which she calls the “” recently featured on Patch, did not escape the vandals' eye.
She had gone out New Year’s Eve, but made a stop at the house around 10:30 p.m. She noticed the yard had been TP-ed and the reindeer were rearranged in suggestive positions. She had a laugh and didn’t take it to seriously.
But when Harden returned at around 2 a.m. Sunday, she discovered that expensive light displays were uprooted and strewn around the yard.
“They beheaded my snowman,” she said.
Harden estimates she and her parents have put $20,000 into their decorations, which also includes a toy drive for the families of the . Even the smaller decorations often cost $100 or more.
Both Johnson and Harden suspect children or teen-agers. Johnson said in tracking the trail of candy canes, it appeared the vandals traveled by foot or bike and mostly aimed for items they could reach from the sidewalks.
“If we get the word out, maybe parents can discuss it with their kids,” Harden said. “How devastated everyone is.”
In one instance, a home’s snowflakes were ripped from a tree and stomped on the ground, she said.
Johnson said he called the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which did send a deputy. But without a first-hand witness or videotape, he was told the vandals would be near impossible to catch.
Law enforcement officials confirmed that account today.
Harden posted on Facebook Sunday: "It hurts more than anything to know I did all this work and some people just have no respect."
She and her family considered taking a break this year from putting up the ornate display. But she thought of the Marine families and decided it had to be done.
In true community spirit, the neighbors pitched in and got everything ready in six days instead of the three weeks it typically takes, Harden said.
Now, the Christmas spirit has been dampened somewhate.
Harden's 11-year-old, Louis, to her when he saw the Christmas carnage: “ 'Mom, I can’t believe someone did that.’ ”