The car, with the Christmas tree strapped to its roof, was sitting unattended in a parking lot when a person in a white car pulled alongside it. A man got out, cut the ties holding down the tree, and took it, before driving away.
The surveillance video has gone viral on TikTok, YouTube, Reddit, and other social media platforms. You can watch it below.
Here’s what you need to know:
San Mateo Police Called the Suspect ‘Mr. Grinchmas’
The heist occurred at 5:12 p.m. on Friday, December 1, 2023, San Mateo police wrote in a statement posted to their Facebook page along with a picture of the Grinch.
“If that wasn’t enough, to kick-off December, Mr. Grinchmas showed up to steal a Christmas tree off of the roof of someone’s car on Friday, 12/1 around 5:20 p.m.,” they wrote.
“The car was parked in a parking lot on Bridgepointe Parkway while the victim was running errands after getting his tree. A vehicle pulled up next to the victim’s and quickly cut the ropes holding the tree to the roof, slid it right off and into the cargo area of the suspect SUV,” police added.
“Thankfully, Christmas spirit is still alive because the victim was able to get a replacement tree,” they wrote.
According to KTVU-TV, the victim told the television station she bought the Christmas tree for $250. She told KTVU “she couldn’t believe this happened,” the television station reported.
According to KTVU, anyone who recognizes the man or his car should contact San Mateo police.
ABC7 said the tree belonged to a Bay Area couple, and the male victim’s name is Jesus. Police called the case “unique” and told ABC7 that the crime was “Grinchy because there are people with good hearts out there who are more than willing to help out those who can’t afford a tree this time of year.”
Police Reminded People to Be Aware That Thieves Sometimes Prey on People at Christmas Time
Police warned the public to be vigilant at Christmas time.
“But, this does put us in a position to remind you, there are thieves out there looking to take advantage, especially during the Christmas season,” San Mateo police warned.
“If you are out shopping, protect your packages, don’t leave them in your vehicles, condense shopping bags, avoid multiple trips to your car, and if you have shopping or errands to run and plan on getting a tree, save the visit to the tree lot for the end. We always think it’s possible that someone could take our tree, but rarely do we ever hear of it happening,” police wrote.
People criticized the Christmas tree thief on Reddit. “Where does he get the courage to steal in middle of the day,” wrote one Reddit user. “The fact that the thief is driving a nice car makes this even worse,” observed another.