Vandals Ruin Hoffman Estates Family’s Christmas

Updated: 12/20/10 4:54 p.m.

(WBBM/CBS) – A Hoffman Estates family is trying to find their Christmas spirit again after a mean prank destroyed a holiday display 24 years in the making.

“You can see the tire marks right here. It went directly over everything, destroying this here, all this is ruined,” said Jeff Michaels.

Jeff showed CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez the path of a car that jumped the curb outside his Hoffman Estates home, and mowed down the family holiday decorations.

For 24 years, the Michaels family has put a big Christmas display on the front lawn, adding to it each year.

There’s a manger and a train, a gingerbread house, lots of lights and, new this year, Snoopy.

“We had this train for years,” Jeff said. “They found this a block and a half down the street. The nativity scene right here is all in pieces, right over baby Jesus and all the way through.”

Sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning, someone drove right up on their lawn on the 400 block of Mohave Street and destroyed it all.

Michaels says it may have been a childish prank but it simply went too far. His normally joyful display is now an illustration of Christmas cruelty.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser Reports

Jeff’s wife, Joan Michaels, told Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser: “Christmas is done. We’re not doing it anymore. It’s very, very sad that somebody would want to do that. I look outside and I could still cry. They drove across the whole lawn. Everything is ruined.”

The incident is particularly upsetting to the Michaels’ children.

“Every year since I’ve been born I’ve been excited, even as a baby, about these Christmas decorations,” said 13-year-old Ryan Michaels.

His sister Brittany is just back from college.

“They put it up early so when I came home it’d be here,” said Brittany. “And when I came home I was so excited. I was happy and in the Christmas spirit.”

“I did it for them,” said Joan. “You see two kids upset. That’s not what Christmas is about. I don’t want to be upset, and we are, because this is something that we’ve had 24 years, piece by piece.”

But with tire tracks in the yard and a trail of mangled inflatables and other decorations, the family is admittedly having a tough time keeping their Christmas spirit.

“Whoever did this, I hope they have a nice Christmas, because they’ve ruined ours,” said Jeff.

Joan says they’re going to leave the damaged display all like it is.

“My husband, he just wants to make a statement,” she said.

A detective paid a visit to the house Monday.

The family is offering a reward for help finding the culprits, while the kids are trying to convince their parents to put the display back up.

“We’re not gonna back down, we’re gonna keep the Christmas spirit alive in this household,” said Ryan.

At this point, the family still has no idea who did this. No neighbors heard or saw anything. But they estimate replacing everything will cost about $2,000.

More from Mike Krauser
  • Denise Myers

    I’m sorry to hear that this happened to this family. What’s really sad is that people just don’t care anymore. People are rude, mean and if you look at another person, they would not hesitate to murder you or rob you!! I do not know what has happened to humans. No one is happy anymore.

    I wish this family a Very Merry Christmas and no matter what, please keep the faith! If you don’t decorate next year, you are letting whoever did this to you, WIN!!! Please continue to decorate! That is what Christmas spirit is all about.

    Take care

  • Jeffries

    I am sorry. I hope the vandal(s) get caught and is wearing orange by Christmas day.

    That you are upset and feeling discouraged makes perfect sense. But after you’ve had some time to think about it, I hope you will not like whoever did this rob you and your family of what seems to be a holiday and family tradition – one what holds, I am sure, many precious memories that will be share for generations to come.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

    Take care

  • Wendell Johnson

    I am so sorry for this vandalism. The young children are being deprived of joy at this time of year. The joy and sparkle in a child’s eyes is worth your effort each year. Please reconsider ans continue.

  • Anna

    Don’t let the bad guys get you down. If you give up, they win. Put it up and get a camera to catch them if they try it again next year.

  • Christmas Mom

    We all get disgusted when cowardly vandalism like this occurs & cowards who do this will come back to observe the destruction. We set up SEVERAL Microsoft Life Cam’s. There are tons of new HD webcams out there & they are excellent. Put up a sign that warns that you have video security. Can’t have anything nice anymore. When they are caught, make sure you sue them from here to kingdom come.

  • Darlene in Chicago

    What a shame!!! Hope these criminals are caught, they probably have done other crimes, too. I agree with setting up cameras at strategic areas. But please take down the display if only for your kids. Very sorry to hear about this! God bless, and take care.

  • Resident Suzy

    OMG, I’m so sorry to hear about this deliberate, targeted act of vandalism.

    What gets into people at this time of the year? Since Thanksgiving I’ve seen fights break out between husband/wife/family at stores/malls! People tend to drive more idiotic than usual! Theft and vandalism is up at this time of year. It’s gotten so bad that I have to take 2 weeks of vacation now so I can stay off the roads.

  • RWH

    Worthless cowards.

    That’s exactly what they are.

  • L. A. Sanders

    To the Michaels Family,

    I too have been a victim this holiday season. Thieves have stolen ninety percent of my Christmas decorations and memorabilia. I was and am devastated but we cannot allow the Grinch and his crew to steal our Christmas spirit.

    Below you will find a copy of the letter I wrote to my neighbors. It was very cathartic and therapeutic.

    The Christmas spirit is alive in the responses that I have received from some of my neighbors. One of my neighbors actually bought me a nativity scene. Two of my neighbors sat with me for 6 hours, unpacked and organized what was left and helped me decorate with what I had.

    So please do not let the Grinch steal your holiday. That is what those who are evil would like. We have to prove to them that our Spirit around the Birth of Christ stands strong.

    December 12, 2010

    Dear Neighbor,

    The Grinch’s Stole Christmas……or tried to.

    I have called Hyde Park Tower my home since 2007. There have been good times and I have made many friends. I have worked diligently with a commitment from my heart to improve the living conditions for all at Hyde Park Tower.

    To that end it is hurts my heart that someone at Hyde Park Tower would steal from me and steal big.

    At some point between the summer and now my Christmas decorations were stolen out of the locked community storage room. Not only were entire containers stolen, but those containers which were left were rifled through and one container was left empty (there were two small items left in it).

    I feel violated, pillaged and plundered.

    My items were neatly packed, labeled with name and apartment number, and stored on the highest shelf, up at the ceiling. The maintenance staff had to move them back and forth for me. Thus, I take this theft very personally. Whoever did this knew the items were mine. They made a very concerted effort which took a great deal of time and energy. And someone knows who and when.

    I will never be able to replace those items which were so near and dear to my heart. I will never be able to replace the many Nativity Scenes replicating the birth of the Baby Jesus. I will never able to replace the special items given to me by friends and family throughout the years.

    I don’t want anyone else to be victimized as I was and feel pain I have felt.

    Therefore, if you have anything of any value, sentimental or financial, in the storage room I recommend you go now and check on its safety and security. If you have anything of value I suggest you secure it.

    I will survive this and with the grace of God will heal. I will pray for the thieves. Perhaps there is such a void in their life that they needed to victimize someone to fill it. Anyone who would steal Jesus needs prayer.

    I will have a healthy and happy holiday season and sincerely continue to wish the same for all.

    Lanise A. Sanders

  • Jennifer

    I am sorry that someone was rude, disrespectful and just plain ignorant to ruin the decorations but Christmas is not about cheesy, plastic decorations. Christmas should be in your heart and claiming that Christmas is ruined because of this is not in keeping with the spirit of Christmas.
    The Daily Herald is reporting that Hoffman Estates police are going “door to door” looking for suspects. I think the police resources are better used in looking for the heroin dealers killing our families than looking for the Grinch.

  • Sleepless in Seattle

    Let’s do something. Tell Jeff Michaels to set up an account with his local bank and I will be the first to donate. This can be a symbol of what is good and right with the world. Post the account info on this site and I am in for $100. Peace to all.

  • Franta

    It does need to be investigate by the Hoffman Estates police, I am sure that display meant alot to the residents and of those in surrounding areas! That said not sure what adoor to door search is going to do when there were no witnesses. And who knows if the jerks even live in Hoffman Estates.

    I agree with the family making a statement this year and leaving the debris as a message. But next year put the display back up REALLY send those losers a message they cant stop you! But with one extra thing surround by tire spikes covered by snow and catch the ratbums!

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