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Happy Holidays: Stories Of Crime And Redemption

The missing Santa and penguins as seen on McClaren's reward poster.
Jason McClaren
via Herald Times
The missing Santa and penguins as seen on McClaren's reward poster.

We don't usually share local crime stories, but two of them stuck out today. And one of them provides some hope. We'll start with the sad one:

Fox 8 Clevelandreports that a burglar has "ruined" Christmasfor a Painesville, Ohio family. The burglar allegedly broke into the home, took their TV, an Xbox, a laptop and worst of all perhaps, then took all the newly-bought presents underneath the Christmas tree:

As if that wasn't enough, the burglar went into the family's 1-year-old son's room and took toys from his toy box.

"He kind of ruined our Christmas," John Velardo told Fox 8. "Somehow we have to live with feeling unsafe in the house."

But before you get too gloomy. There's a story of redemption out there today.

The Bloomington, Indiana Herald Times reported on Dec. 2 that a Unionville man was upset because a 16-foot tall inflatable Santa and two companion 6-foot tall inflatable penguins were stolen from his front lawn.

Jason McClaren offered a $400 reward for Santa and the penguins. But on a sad note, he also decided to call it quits on the holiday spirit.

"Everyone knows me for decorating," he told the Herald Times. "A lot of people call it the spooky house at Halloween and the Christmas house at Christmas time. Of course, as of this year, I've kind of stopped."

But today brought some good news. The thief repented and Santa was left in front of McClaren's house with a note and $100. The AP reports:

"Returning your property is the right thing to do, and apologies for the thief who took it in the first place. Hopefully this can help to remedy any issues this caused you and your family. Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays," the note reads.

McClaren said he intends to use the $100 and the $400 in reward money he had set aside to buy more decorations for his property.

Apparently the penguins were stolen by a different person and they are still missing.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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