Thieves dim holiday spirit at Phalen Park in St. Paul

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 2, 2011 - 10:06 AM

Security cameras are now watching the display.

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Phalen Park holiday light show

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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Thieves stole electrical cords at the Holiday Lights in the Park display at Phalen Park in St. Paul three times in the past week.

"It's really discouraging that someone would do this," event co-chair Vicki Sandberg said Thursday.

Volunteers, including dozens of electricians from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, worked to keep 50 displays lit despite the thefts.

"The Grinch may be alive and well, but our volunteers are proving they have a lot of heart," event co-chair Lisa Engh said in a statement.

The thieves cut heavy- and light-duty electric cords, presumably for the copper. The metal has attracted many thieves this year. It's unclear if the Phalen Park thefts are linked to others.

Police have no suspect descriptions, spokesman Howie Padilla said.

The thefts occurred on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, Sandberg said. Extension cords were taken in the first incident, and a 100-foot conduit that houses several cables was taken the second time. On Wednesday, park police found another conduit coiled on the side of Arcade Street as if someone were planning to retrieve it, Sandberg said.

The event, now in its fourth year, raises money for Second Harvest Heartland, Union Gospel Mission, the St. Paul Parks Conservancy and UnderConstruction. It has raised $110,000 over the past three years. Engh said the thefts could reduce money given this year. About $2,500 in damage was reported.

Security cameras at the lake now will be aimed at the display, Sandberg said.

The display opened Nov. 22 and runs through Jan. 1, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $8 per car Monday through Thursday, and $10 per car Friday through Sunday.

Police have increased patrols in the area. Anyone with information can call police at 651-291-1111.

@ChaoStrib • 612-270-4708

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