Christmas vandals damage 18 homes; estimated damage $20k

House in Old Dutchtown vandalized
House in Old Dutchtown vandalized

ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A trio of scrooges destroyed the sparkle of Christmas in some homes in Ascension Parish.

The group of vandals went around smashing people's Christmas decorations in Old Dutchtown Subdivision.

Every Christmas, Scott Raposo transforms his front yard in to what his neighbors refer to as a "Winter Wonderland."

The lights, the music, and the magic of what he is doing just draw people. No one knows better than his neighbors. Norman Hebert sees every night.

"It looks very busy. There's lots of people that come by foot and on car. He's got his own radio station where you can listen to the music and watch lights," Hebert said.

This year Raposo added a big box out front to collect donations for St. Jude Children's Hospital. Things were off to a great start until this past weekend when three vandals struck in the middle of the night. His neighbor's home surveillance camera captured them beating up on what appears to be lighted Christmas displays.

"We lost half our deer. They beheaded my Santa Claus. We got a new one on the way in. These blue trees were crushed. They have 30 strings of 70 lights, 2,100 lights on each one of them," Raposo said.

They literally wrecked his front yard, an estimated $35,000 worth. Lights aside, Raposo had to sort through all of the snapped wires to rebuild his display.

"I had piles of wires and I had no idea what they went to and that took a while to figure out," Raposo explained.

The Christmas spirit went to work. Raposo said friends, even strangers stopped by to help him get his mission back online.

"By 10 a.m. we had about 30 adults and kids out here people helping rebuild, weren't enough things for people to do," Raposo said.

Operation Winter Wonderland was back up in running the very next night. What the vandals set out to destroy has been revived.

"It was just total wanton destruction. There was no reason or purpose behind it," Raposo said.

Witnesses gave a description of two suspect vehicles. One described as a dark colored, newer model GMC or Chevy truck. The second vehicle described as a small green or teal colored SUV with an LSU block letter sticker on the rear glass. According to the witness the driver of both vehicles are white males in their late teens or early twenties. Home surveillance video captured three white males damaging the Christmas decorations.

Sheriff Jeff Wiley is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of the persons responsible for this horrible criminal act.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office at 225-621-INFO (4636) or Crime Stoppers at 225-344-STOP (7867).