It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, according to crime records, it also happens to be an equally disturbing time of year for some. While Christmas might seem like the most unlikely season for crimes, it’s an unfortunate truth that there are plenty on record. And they are downright baffling. Here are some of the most troubling crimes committed on or around Christmas.
(Please note: the below photographs are not associated with the actual crimes unless otherwise stated.)
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. The case of the so-called stolen chocolate (Georgia)
A man dressed as St. Nick at the Atlanta Mall lost his patience in the worst way in 2004. His temper got the best of him and he allegedly began to hit an elderly 74-year-old woman with a 2 x 4, convinced she had stolen over $100 worth of Hersey’s chocolate from him. The woman died from injuries in the hospital, and Clarke was sentenced to a life in prison.
2. The case of Santa on a motorcycle (South Carolina)
It was 2006 in Columbia, South Carolina when a man dressed in a full santa costume riding a decked-out motorcycle pulled up to a gas station and asked a family if they wanted to see the stuffed reindeer he had in the sidecar. The children walked up to take a closer look when suddenly this man grabbed the eight-year-old girl and sped off. Panicked, the father furiously chased after them and was able to retrieve his daughter. The Santa-imposter was arrested.
3. The case of taking candy from a Santa (Ohio)
Everyone knows not to take candy from strangers, but what about taking candy canes from Santa Claus? It was 2009 in Parma, Ohio when a 12-year-old girl was flagged down by Santa, hiding in the bushes, offering her Christmas candy. The girl was wise enough to ignore this attempt, and when the man in the Santa costume began chasing her, she made it to a local store just in time to call the police. The man was identified as mentally unstable and was later caught still wearing his suit.
4. The case of a Santa Claus burglary (Alabama)
A visit from Santa is usually a joyous occasion, especially when he’s collecting for charity. A 22-year-old woman living in Birmingham thought this was the exact scenario when a man dressed as Santa knocked on her door. Unfortunately, his intentions were much darker. He hit her in the face before attempting to rob her house. He fled the premises shortly after.
5. The case of the most infamous Christmas bank robbery (Texas)
This crime is almost 100 years old, but it’s still quite baffling. In fact, it’s still considered to be one of the most notorious robberies in history. A man by the name of Marshall Ratliff walked into Cisco’s First National bank in a full Santa costume. Accompanied by three armed men, he was able to escape with the money, taking three girls as hostage. His car ran out of gas shortly after and he had to abandon his loot. He was arrested and sentenced to 99 years in prison, but an angry mob invaded the prison and lynched him. Interestingly enough, the above image was used in hopes of identifying the criminal.
6. The case of the disorderly mall Santa (New Hampshire)
It was 2005 when a 52-year-old man appeared at Rockingham Park Mall in a full Santa costume. For some reason or another, he decided it would be a good idea to drop his pants in front of everyone. Fortunately, he was wearing sweat pants underneath his costume. Nevertheless, he was arrested for disorderly conduct.
7. The case of the Italian Hall disaster (Michigan)
The 1913 Italian Hall disaster might have happened over a century ago, but it’s a tale that continues to cause despair. It was Christmas Eve in Calumet, Michigan when a group of striking mine workers and their families were gathered for the holiday. An unidentified person falsely yelled out “fire!” and the result was disastrous. In an effort to evacuate the building, 73 were killed due to the stampede that ensued.
8. The case of the most unusual Christmas gift (Louisana)
Parents can sometimes be at a loss when it comes to finding the perfect gift for their children. A man in Sidell thought he had the perfect solution. According to police reports, he robbed a pet store, taking the cash register and a couple of snakes. When he was asked by police why he committed the crime, he said it was for his son’s Christmas present.
9. The case of the stolen baby Jesus (Florida)
A stolen baby Jesus from a nativity scene: it’s an all-too common Christmas crime. One case, which happened in Florida in 2007, was particularly unusual. When an 18-year old woman from Florida stole the ceramic figure, she assumed her crime would go unpunished. Little did she know that the figure was actually rigged with a GPS system, and the cops quickly found out about her shenanigans. It's hard to tell what's more disturbing - the crime of stealing the baby or the assumption that the figure would need a GPS monitor in the first place.
10. The case of the intoxicated St. Nick (South Carolina)
Volunteering to drive a Christmas float for local holiday parade is a generous act. That is, until alcohol is factored into the mix. A man from South Carolina was drinking while driving a float only meant to go a few miles per hour. Speeding at nearly 60 MPH, he was charged with intoxicated driving, open container, and a few more charges for his horrifying behavior.
11. The case of the crazed shoppers (New York)
Black holiday deals can be motivation for braving the crowds and waiting in ridiculously long lines. But sometimes, things can get a little out of hand. No where was that truer than the Green Acres Mall in 2008, when hundreds were waiting for the doors to open with the promise of holiday savings. This crowd quickly turned into a mob, busting through the glass doors and trampling over an employee. And the most disturbing part? When it was announced that the employee had been killed, many shoppers continued shopping, complaining that they had been waiting in line all night.
12. The case of the stolen Christmas trees (Oregon)
When the economy tanked in 2008, many families had to get creative with making do with a little less over the holidays. Others turned borderline criminal. In Oregon, for example, policemen in Portland caught a man dragging his stolen Christmas tree down the street at 3 AM.
13. The case of the terrorized Frosty float (Ohio)
The fact that the victim of a brutal Christmas stabbing happened to be a giant Frosty float somehow doesn’t make it less disturbing. The perpetrators were two teenagers in the Colerain Township area. They violently attacked with a knife the 12-foot figure in a resident’s yard. Fortunately, the two were caught on videotape, having committed this crime repeatedly, and were eventually arrested and fined.
14. The case of the Santa break-in (Washington)
If you're dressed as Santa Claus and plan on committing a robbery, it only makes sense to come in through the chimney, right? This less-than-fool-proof logic was used by a man in Seattle as he attempted to rob a house. Before any real crime was committed, he actually got stuck in the chimney and had to be helped out by the fire department. The confused criminal claimed he was just trying to retrieve his backpack, but the story didn't fly with the police. They sentenced him to 17 months in prison.
One can only hope these crimes remain as baffling as they are, rather than becoming the norm. Have you heard of any more holiday-related crimes? Feel free to share your thoughts with us.