Light bulb thefts dim Beaufort's Christmas tree

emoody@beaufortgazette.comDecember 20, 2012 

Two women pose for a photograph next to the Beaufort Christmas tree on Thursday evening. Someone has been stealing lights from the tree, located along Bay Street by the Beaufort Downtown Marina.


Some visitors to the city of Beaufort Christmas tree think it's a bright idea to steal light bulbs; others are playing reindeer games by placing decorative deer in risquè poses.

Someone has been unscrewing dozens of bulbs from the city's tree by the Beaufort Downtown Marina parking lot almost nightly, said Jerry Ashmore, Beaufort branch manager for The Greenery, which manages city landscaping. The decorative deer also are being set in "compromising positions," he said.

About five days a week, the lights must be replaced by hand and the decorations returned to their original places. Fortunately, the city has extra strings of lights left over from the previous, larger Christmas tree and has been raiding that stash for replacements instead of buying new ones, Ashmore said. As many as 50 have been removed in a single night.

He guesses the pranks are being done by bored teenagers or customers at local bars who may be, literally, too full of Christmas spirits. All the bulbs removed are from the ground to about six feet high.

"I think it's just someone having fun," Ashmore said.

The missing lights are a new issue this year, Ashmore said, but the deer are ... ahem ... rearranged almost every year.

Police Chief Matt said patrol officers will keep an eye out for the mischief-makers.

Ashmore brought the deer and bulbs up during the city's neighborhood meeting Wednesday, prompting a discussion about installing security cameras downtown. Clancy said he is contacting police departments around the region to see if and how they use cameras.

The city has discussed installing cameras downtown before -- Councilwoman Donnie Beer has been one of their main champions -- but cost estimates from previous studies are too dated to be useful, Clancy said.

"The downtown area is a difficult place to put cameras because of all the angles and trees," he said. "You really have to pick and choose where you put cameras."

In the end, Clancy had one observation: "the cost of a camera, is it more expensive than replacing bulbs?"

Related content

  1. Night on the Town packs downtown Beaufort, Dec. 17, 2012
  2. Beaufort gets new Christmas tree in time for holiday decorating, Nov. 1, 2012
  3. Beaufort officials urge residents to help curb crime; cameras, police dialogue also discussed, Sept. 24, 2012

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