NEW ORLEANS - A brazen Mid-City thief apparently decided he needed a little more Christmas this year by stealing someone else's decorations in the middle of the day out of a yard on Carrollton Avenue.
Hurricane Katrina made those decorations have special meaning, and the owner, Perry Chapman, is on a mission to find them.
“I've been doing the decorations since I was a kid,” he said.
When it’s time for Christmas at the house he shares with his partner on Carrollton Avenue, you know it. It’s full of dozens of tiny nutcrackers, statuettes of Santa Claus and has lights and garland everywhere.
“All we had on the tree (before Katrina) was nothing but Santa Clauses,” Chapman said. The flood after the storm ruined many of his other ornaments.
Like so many New Orleanians, Chapman lost so many meaningful things during Katrina. In fact, the water line is still crystal clear in his storage room.
What he managed to salvage took a lot of work.
“I'll never forget that smell as long as I live. It was just horrid,” he said.
He worked hard to save the two reindeer that light up the middle of his front yard for the first Christmas after Katrina. Looking for normalcy, a neighbor asked if he was going to put his display up that year.
“I said, everything's flooded. I can't do it,” Chapman said.
But he did. And he has every Christmas since. But last Sunday in the middle of the day, with church going on next door, "I'm on the phone,” Chapman said, “I'm like, let me let you go my reindeer are missin’!”
He found a note from a neighbor who wanted to remain anonymous on his front door when he got back home.
That person saw the suspected thief walking down Carrollton Avenue with the reindeer and started snapping pictures.
Chapman said Tuesday that it gave him faith in humanity.
Stealing the reindeer wasn't easy. They were anchored in the ground by two-foot metal rods.
“It's kind of disheartening to see somebody walk out in full traffic on a sunny, Saints Sunday, game day, walking down the street with two big ol’ reindeer. There's something just not right about that,” he said.
And he wants them back. It's why his house has a new decoration this year, a homemade wanted poster to try and catch the Grinch who stole his reindeer.
New Orleans police say they're actively investigating the theft.
If you have information that can help, call the detective at 658-6012.