Art Mercurio has always enjoyed putting up Christmas decorations and it's quite evident to anyone who visits his Collingswood home. Now, at the age of 87, Art and Irene, his wife of more than 60 years, are ready to give up on the outdoor display.
Not because of their age, but because of vandals.
The Mercurio's have had decorations either stolen or vandalized four times since 2003. Once it happened while they were watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" on TV with their son.
"He says 'Mom, I heard a car door slam out there. He runs out and takes a look and sees a car running away and sees a guy with all our stuff in there," Art said.
On two different days last week Art says vandals cut extension cords and took rope and netting lights from bushes along with two plastic figures. He says it makes him not want to put up decorations ever again.
"It bothers us," said Capt. Richard Sarlo of the Collingswood Police. "It's a holiday time, it's supposed to be a time of joy and thefts do occur. It bothers us like it bothers anybody else."
Capt. Sarlo says these acts of criminal mischief unfortunately do happen this time of year. So far, the Mercurio's case is his first this season.
Irene and Art say it all makes them very sad.
"I was so devastated I thought I was going to get a heart attack," said Art.
"Especially if they know we're elderly people.... It's very, very depressing," said Irene.
Since the latest act of vandalism, the Mercurio's have had survellance cameras installed. They hope it will deter those who think about going after their decorations again.