Christmas light bandit strikes Hillsborough County

Man caught on surveillance video
Posted at 9:28 PM, Dec 22, 2016

A Christmas decoration crime spree is taking the holiday spirit out of Hillsborough County.

Nearly a dozen laser light displays, retailing for about $40 each, are now missing in Riverside Heights. Alina Morros surveillance camera’s show why.

In the video, a man calmly walks right into her yard around one Tuesday morning, plucks the device from the grass and leaves.

“I mean it took less than 30 seconds,” Morros said.

“It shocked me that it was a grown man that did it,” said Larry Lavacca, who also had his lights stolen.

Moments later you can see the man fling a bag over his shoulder, jump on a bike and ride away. Homes on both sides of some streets had lights missing.

Many residents we spoke with could only shrug there shoulders and ask them selves why anyone would bother stealing so many of them in the first place.

“Are you like setting up a tent somewhere and selling these things? I mean it's just really stupid,” Lavacca said.

For John Rumball, it's the lack of fear of getting caught that has him on edge.

“What really scares and shocks me is that there was a sheriff’s car parked right there and they walked up and took the lights,” Rumball said. "If they'll do this what's next."

Investigators released a daytime image of a possible suspect showing him stealing a string of lights out of a bush as well.

While it is difficult to protect yourself from this type of theft, there are things you can do, like bolting down the projector to a tree or post. One neighbor plunged the arm of the projector into a planter pot of cement.

“If they can’t grab it and run they’re not going to take it,” Rumball.