Somebody Stole my Auntie's Christmas Lights!!
Theft of tropical holiday display a deep personal loss for family
Leilani Sigeske is hoping for the return of Hawaiian-themed items she hoped would cheer up her Irvine neighborhood.
IRVINE – Leilani Sigeske had hoped her Hawaiian-themed holiday display would spread the good cheer the deeply personal decorations had brought to her darkest times.
But those hopes were dashed with the recent theft of several 6-foot tiki god statues, pink flamingos and plastic fish from the Sigeske's front lawn.
Now, the family is left wondering why a display meant to bring laughter in the midst of a dreary economic time became a target for thieves.
The Sigeske's have adorned the lawn of their Northwood home with what Leilani described as "silly" decorations for several years, but this season's display seemed to hit a chord with the neighbors, she said.
"This year really sucks for a lot of people and we really thought we were doing something good for the neighborhood," Sigeske said. "People actually came over with food thanking me for putting up the display."
Drawing heavily from her own Hawaiian heritage, Sigeske avoided the traditional "winter wonderland" themes of many holiday displays, instead creating a tropical paradise complete with palm trees swaying in the wind, lighted sea creatures, a fire-breathing dragon wearing a Santa hat, a Hula Girl and the ever-present tiki gods. Anchoring the display were signs reading "Mele Kalikimaka," Hawaiian for "Merry Christmas."
Many of the items, including those stolen, had an intensely personal connection for the Sigeskes. Bill bought them to cheer up Leilani, who suffers from Lupus, during several serious health scares.
"I was so sick, and he would come back home with this stupid item that made me laugh so much," Sigeske said. "They were in the family for years, and I would look at them and think about how I almost died. But no matter how bad I felt it always made me laugh."
The theft apparently took place during the evening hours of Dec. 19, Sigeske said. While no one got a look at the suspects, several neighbors reported hearing a truck pull up in front of the house.
Due to the size of the decorations, particularly the tiki gods, she believes several people must have taken part in the theft.
The family kept the rest of the display up for a week, hoping that the thieves would return the stolen items. But, nothing has yet been returned, and they plan to finally take down the rest of the tropical decorations this week.
Despite the setback, Sigeske vows that they will put the display back up next year, no matter what.
"I'm going to sit out there with a shotgun and mow down anything that slows down," she joked.
She also offered her own warning to the thieves about the karmic dangers of their actions.
"You do not take a tiki god, because it is bad luck. It is like sacrilegious in the Hawaiian culture," Sigeske said. "They should have taken anything else."
Anyone with information about the stolen items can call the Irvine police at 949-724-7000.