BROOKEVILLE, Md. (WJLA) – When Chrysa Thear adorned her home, trees and shrubs with 200,000 LED Christmas lights, she never expected to lure thieves, but that’s exactly who paid her a visit.
Thear, a self-professed Christmas nut, began outfitting her garage and carriage house with an army of snowmen, penguins and candy canes during the late 1990s. That eclectic collection has given way to an annual holiday spectacle, which attracts thousands of visitors to her yard, many of whom are total strangers.
“I enjoy Christmas. I enjoy all the colors and the lights and the decorations,” Thear said while standing amid her Winter Wonderland.
Thear, who lives along a quiet cul-de-sac in rural Brookeville, had bid farewell to her final guest on the night of Dec. 3. The clock had just struck 10:45 p.m. when she walked inside and shut her front door.
The next morning, she awoke to an email from a neighbor reporting suspicious activity overnight. Thear immediately reviewed her eight-camera security system. From 10:53 to 11 p.m., three individuals pried, plucked and lugged pricey decorations from her front and backyard (watch color high-definition video above). The trio then walked the goods to a parked car, possibly a gray two-door Honda, and drove away with their headlights turned off.
“[The video] was so clear; I will never forget that gentleman’s face,” Thear added. “It was just sheer arrogance and I won’t forget that.”
One thief, a white man, wore a black hoodie and blue plaid pajama pants. The second robber, a white woman, sported a tight-fitting white hooded winter jacket and black pants. The third thief kept a safe distance from Thear’s home and cameras, making him hard to identify.
Out more than $500 in decorations, Thear turned to an Olney-Brookeville, listserv for assistance. Within a day or two, a member emailed to report finding the decorations in a ditch about two miles away from the “Winter Wonderland.”
“What a shame it would be if she stopped doing this because of thieves like this,” said Kristen Range, a Montgomery County Public Schools math teacher, who brought her young daughter to Thear’s winter spectacular Thursday evening.
Montgomery County Police have reviewed the surveillance video, but need the public’s help identifying all three suspects.
“They deserve to be prosecuted. This was not a joke. If you’re out for a joy ride, you pay the consequences and the consequences are you get prosecuted,” Thear concluded.
Thear, who has spent tens of thousands of dollars on decorations, accepts donations from her visitors. This year she’s raised around $1,000 for the Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg and Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research in Georgetown. She’s also collected five boxes of non-perishable food.
Thear’s “Winter Wonderland” is located at 20304 Lubar Way in Brookeville. It is open weeknights from 6:30 to 10 p.m. and weekends 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. through the first week of January.