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‘Now I got this big hole': Vandals put a damper on family's Christmas

Wednesday - 12/12/2012, 6:00am  ET

Stream Family (Frederick News Post)
Members of the Stream family look over Tuesday afternoon the remains of a manger scene in their front yard on Gapland Road. Nelson Stream Jr. believes this and other decorations were destroyed sometime between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m. Sunday. With Stream are his children, from left, Devin Stream, 7, Sara Stream, 5, and Nelson Stream III, 11. (Frederick News-Post/Sam Yu)

For the Stream family, one of the highlights of the holiday season has always been setting up and enjoying the elaborate display of lights and decorations in the yard of their home on Gapland Road in Jefferson.

"I enjoy doing it," said Nelson Stream, who estimates he's spent $10,000 to $15,000 over the years on the display. "It takes me about a week to set it all up."

But over the weekend, some Scrooges showed their lack of Christmas spirit when they vandalized the display, destroying several items and damaging others.

The family discovered the vandalism Sunday morning when Nelson Stream went out to feed his cow.

The damage included lights that had been thrown into the road, broken stakes, and broken and dented figurines, including a nose torn off a penguin and a snowman that someone apparently punched a hole through.

They estimate the total damage at about $1,500.

"It looked like a car had gone through the yard, that's how bad it looked," said Nelson Stream, who said the vandals also went into his truck. "I'm still just trying to figure out what works and what doesn't work."

Stacy Stream said she is at a loss to explain why someone would do such a thing. She said her three children, Nelson III, 11, Devin, 7, and Sara, 5, love the display and took the vandalism hard. Nelson III, who is autistic, takes special joy in the decorations. His favorites, a reindeer and a Winnie the Pooh inflatable, were not among the items damaged, she said.

"This is the best thing ever to him. It's just something that people enjoy doing and enjoy looking at, and some butt-heads come along and tear it all apart," she said. "I was mad and at the same time upset and even a little scared. If they'll go in our yard and do this, who knows what else they're willing to do."

Nelson Stream said he believes the vandalism was a teenage prank fueled by alcohol -- the family found a beer can among the damaged items -- but not the kind of act that should be dismissed as teenagers being teenagers.

"I did a lot of things when I was a kid, but destruction of private property wasn't one of them," he said. "It's probably a random act and it might not happen again, but it really upsets you that people would even do that."

He plans to replace the destroyed items, but it won't be easy because he said several were custom-made. Even those that weren't are not readily available this late in the season, he said.

"The shelves are empty," Nelson Stream said. "You can't find stuff. Now I got a big hole in the middle of my yard where all this stuff is missing."

The Frederick County Sheriff's Office is investigating the vandalism at the Streams', as well as some broken mailboxes on Gapland and Broad Run roads and a damaged vehicle on Broad Run reported the same day, said sheriff's office spokeswoman Jennifer Bailey.

"It doesn't happen a lot, but every year we take reports of this type of thing," Bailey said of the vandalism. She said such acts serve as a reminder of the importance of reporting any suspicious activity to law enforcement.

Anyone with information is asked to call Deputy First Class Marc Destefano at 301-600-4204.