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Holiday vandalism strikes again at Federal Way home

Michelle Hatley, friend of Mary Carlisle, surveys the Carlisle
Michelle Hatley, friend of Mary Carlisle, surveys the Carlisle's yard, peering at the multiple Christmas balloon decorations that were destroyed Nov. 30 by vandals.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

For the second time in as many months, vandals have punctured the holiday spirit of a Federal Way couple.

Gary and Mary Carlisle awoke Nov. 30 to find their Christmas yard decorations — Santa Claus, reindeer, a rocking horse, snowmen and more — deflated. Someone had slashed all eight of the oversized holiday balloons multiple times with a knife. The scene was a familiar one: The couple's Halloween decorations met the same demise.

The couple does not have young children. They decorate for the holidays in hopes of bringing a smile to neighbors' faces.

"We don't even have little kids; we do this for the neighbors," Mary Carlisle said. "It makes you feel good when people stop and look at your house."

The Carlisles have repaired their decorations, with the help of some clear tape. They did the same for the Halloween balloons. But some hard feelings remain. The Christmas display cost the couple $800.

"It's like a personal attack," Mary said.

The Carlisles have exhibited the balloons for the past 10 years. This year, they added two new balloons. This is the first time any of the decorations have been vandalized. No other property damage was done, Mary said. The couple's vehicles were parked outside; they were not touched. The house and yard suffered no damage. Mary suspects the vandals are familiar with King County's property crime laws.

Beginning October 2008, due to King County budget constraints, property crimes in which the value of the property is less than $1,000 are considered misdemeanors and are directed to the municipal or district court to handle. If the property damage is between $1,001 and $5,000, the case will be forwarded to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, but it could still be directed back to a municipal court instead of being tried at a superior court level.

The Carlisles are not sure what they can do to protect their property. They are contemplating purchasing a video camera to record activities in front of their home. Police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said cameras are a good deterrent and can help identify a suspect if that person is known to the victim. Federal Way police investigate all crimes, regardless of whether they are felonies, she said.

"We do work hard at (solving) every crime," Schrock said.

Mary said she thinks the person who ruined her holiday decorations is likely a juvenile. She hopes the person takes a moment to think about he or she would feel if somebody trespassed on their property and destroyed things that belonged to them.

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