Reward offered in Hoffman Estates vandalism

December 20, 2010 (HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill.)

"They drove over everything and just about all this stuff is ruined. And it's ruined our Christmas," Jeff Michels said.

Tire tracks show where a car jumped the curb, drove on to the family's large corner lot and plowed into the Christmas display. Michels, who had been collecting the decorations since becoming a husband and father 24 years ago, said the vandals struck sometime between midnight and 4 a.m. Saturday. He discovered the mess as he was leaving for work.

"Go ahead and hit Santa or hit the blowups, that's fine. But to run over a nativity scene? Somebody needs help," said Michels.

The vandals did at least $2,000 in damage, according to Michels. "There's no point in doing it. It's making everybody sad. I don't think they're gonna be feeling good about this either," said Ryan Michels, son.

"I think people should think twice when they think they're going to do something to impress their friends and they need to think about how their actions could affect families during the holidays," said Steven Casstevens, Hoffman Estates Police Department. Police said the vandalism is a Class 4 Felony, which is punishable by more than 1 year in jail and a substantial fine.

Michels is offering a reward for information about the vandals and is leaving the display as is for the next few days to make a point of showing what can happen when there's no Christmas spirit. The vandalism has generated an outpouring of support.

"I had an older lady come in and she gave me a kiss and she said put it all back up, don't let them win. And I said maybe I will," said Michels.

Michels said he still has some decorations left in his garage and he's not sure if he'll put them out later this week.

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