Grinches set back Rotary Lights Christmas, stealing about $10,000 worth of electrical cords

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The Grinch Gang got an early start during the weekend, stealing around $10,000 worth of cords from Rotary Lights electrical pedestals in Riverside Park in La Crosse.

Rotary Lights

Rotary Lights electrical pedestals vandalized when thieves steal wires. (Rotary Lights photo)

“For 26 years, the Rotary Lights project has always taken pride in the fact that there has never been any vandalism or theft in Riverside Park,” Rotary Lights President Pat Stephens lamented on Monday. “That all changed” Saturday and Sunday.

Volunteers moved about 70 of the pedestals Friday to begin the labor-intensive process of splicing together displays featuring about 3 million lights, Stephens said. But vandals cut the cords on many of the pedestals the next two nights, he said.

“It was assumed they wanted to take the cords with the hope that the copper content would be worth some kind of monetary award,” Stephens said.

“Replacement cords are $2 per foot so our loss could be close to $10,000,” he said. “We have alerted all wire dealers in a wide area of La Crosse to be on the lookout for anyone trying to cash cords in for gain.”

Rotary Lights is working with the La Crosse Police Department, who are checking security cameras that service the park area, he said.

Rotary Lights’ security group usually starts monitoring the park in November but has been called in early with the hope of eliminating additional damage, Stephens said.

“If we identify the perpetrators, we will prosecute to the full extent of the law,” Stephens said.

Noting Rotary Lights’ mission of “feeding the hungry” by collecting donations of food and money for food shelves during the month-long extravaganza, Stephens said, “We ask for the community’s help in keeping an eye on the park and to make note of any suspicious activity.

“As a community, we can restore the pride that we will not have vandalism or stealing that in reality takes away from the Rotary Lights mission,” he said.

Anyone who has information on the theft is asked to call the police department at (608) 782-7575 or Stephens at (608) 784-9993.

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