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Pilfered South Tampa elf featured in Times story returned to owner

TAMPA — The pilfered South Tampa elf is back on its porch.

Two Tampa police officers returned a three-foot-tall Christmas statue to a home on South Oregon Avenue on Wednesday night, one week after a surveillance camera there captured the thief in the act. The department posted video of the crime on its Facebook page Monday and the Tampa Bay Times featured the theft in a story published online Wednesday about stolen holiday decorations.

By then, investigators had already received “some promising tips” and identified the thief, a 20-year-old man who admitted to taking the elf on a dare, according to a Wednesday night post on the department’s Facebook page.

“He expressed remorse and happily returned the Christmas elf statue,” the post says. “The young man has never been in trouble before. (We checked. Twice.) The homeowner did not wish to press charges for what would have amounted to a misdemeanor petit theft.”

The post featured a short video, shot by the same surveillance camera, of two uniformed officers carrying the statue up the stairs and placing it in its rightful spot.

The post continued: “The message to would-be thieves: You better watch out — because Santa, surveillance cameras, and TPD are keeping an eye out for Grinches, porch pirates, and package thieves this year.”

Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

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