Protect your gnomes! Northeast St. Pete "holiday" house vandalized four times this year

Posted at 2:09 AM, Aug 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-29 07:12:44-04

Donna Brown, a legend in her Northeast St. Pete neighborhood, is not going to let bad guys steal her joy.

Her garden tchotchkes, however, are another matter.

For more than 25 years, Brown’s eclectic and eccentric front yard has been a 365-days-a-year hoot. Her yard goes over-the-top for Halloween and Christmas, but pretty much all year long, too. Some folks knock on her door at 39th Avenue and First Street NE just to say she raised their spirits.

“I’ve had people leave me cards saying they were going through a really dark time and I made them feel better,” she says.

But for the fourth time in the past seven months, Brown’s colorful front yard has been burglarized.

“It makes me feel rotten, sad,” she says. “Because why would people do something like that?...I can go for years with nothing happening, and then all of a sudden one thing after another.”

Northeast St. Pete has been hit hard by a rash of break-ins, bike thefts… and now gnome snatching.

St. Pete Police have advised her to do a few things:

  1. Pull back her treasures farther from the street and sidewalk. A few feet can make a world of difference.
  2. Put less valuable, less sentimental objects on the outside; more valuable and cherished items closer to the house.
  3. Tie down, or stake down, everything in your yard. Thieves don’t like hassle of any kind. “Make them work for it,” Brown says.