Christmas is the season of giving and a time for love and fellowship. As the special day approaches, millions of people take to the streets to seek out the perfect gifts for their friends and family. Colorful lights abound and—in colder climes—people snuggle by the fire as they watch snow drift lazily to the ground. It’s a magical time and one that brings joy to children and parents all over the world.
Unfortunately, it also brings out the worst society has to offer, namely criminals intent on ruining the holiday season for innocent people everywhere. What’s worse is that sometimes the perpetrators of Christmas crimes aren’t even convicted felons, but angry shoppers who finally reach their breaking points. Whatever the case may be, one thing is for certain: Christmas can be dangerous, and this year is certainly no exception.
Here are some examples of just how extreme these “scrooges” can be—and how their evildoing can taint an otherwise festive season.
Early Monday morning, violence erupted at a holiday toy drive and Christmas party sponsored by the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity from Cal State Long Beach. The event took place at the Radisson Hotel in Westchester and anyone who brought a toy to donate was given a discount on their admission. Around 1 a.m., however, something went horribly wrong. A number of people decided to forgo the admission charge and simply walked into the party. They were asked to leave and when they refused, someone produced a can of pepper spray and blanketed the area with it. Fistfights broke out, chairs and tables were thrown, and more than 40 LAPD officers were dispatched to break up the fracas. No one was seriously injured and no arrests were made, but the charitable event was shut down a short time later. Too bad these party crashers forgot to bring some Christmas spirit with them, huh?
This story has been all over the news recently because it’s so terrible and so anti-Christmas. It happened in the parking garage of a crowded, upscale mall this Sunday as a young attorney and his wife were returning to their car after shopping. Dustin Friedland opened the passenger door for his wife and was walking around the back of the car towards the driver’s side when he was attacked by two men. A struggle ensued and as his wife was fleeing the SUV—which was subsequently stolen by their attackers—Friedman was shot. He was pronounced dead at a Morristown hospital a short time later. The couple’s abandoned Range Rover was discovered by police in Newark, but the killers remain at large. Please watch your back if you live in the area—and in general, since Christmas obviously brings out the crazies.
PARKER COUNTY, TEXAS
Last Christmas, 44-year-old Dana Brock was caught by surveillance video stealing holiday lights from a family’s home while they slept. A few months later, she was seen in another surveillance video, only this time Brock was stealing power tools from a different family’s garage. Unfortunately for her, she has a criminal record dating back to when she was 17 years old—it contains crimes ranging from credit card abuse and theft to assault and solicitation to commit murder. Since Texas has a “three strikes law” and Brock has far surpassed this limit, the jury gave her a very special Christmas gift this year: 70 years in prison. It’s been said that crime doesn’t pay and—in the case of this “Christmas Grinch”—this could not be more accurate. I hope she enjoys her next 70 Christmases behind bars!
Every year, thousands of people around the nation volunteer their time as bell ringers outside local businesses. They basically greet people, wish them a merry Christmas and solicit donations for charities like the Salvation Army and the United Way. One such person is Kristina Vindiola, who stationed herself outside a Walmart in Phoenix recently. A woman approached and in her usual warm way, Vindiola wished her “Happy Holidays.” Then a strange thing happened. The woman asked Vindiola if she believed in God, told her a more appropriate greeting would be “Merry Christmas” and then punched her! And she didn’t even make a donation, either!
WEST MIDLANDS, ENGLAND
Although the stories I share come largely from the United States, our final Christmas crime story “crosses the pond” to merry old England and the officers of the West Midlands Police Department. In an effort to raise awareness about holiday crime and the damper it can put on people’s festivities, the WMPD created a LEGO video about Christmas crime prevention that I highly suggest you watch. It’s pretty creative and can be found by going HERE. I only hope it works so Christmas can be pleasant and crime-free for everyone, including our brothers and sisters in the U.K.
Yes, Christmas is a wonderful holiday for a multitude of reasons, but it also has a dark side thanks to people less interested in giving and more interested in taking. This year, please take whatever steps necessary to ensure you and yours don’t fall victim to these grinches and scrooges. As much as I hate to say it, they are all around us.
Have a merry—and safe—Christmas, everybody!
Posted on December 17, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged Christmas, commentary, Crime and Justice, current-events, news, perspectives, safety, United States, Walmart. Bookmark the permalink. 50 Comments.