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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're in the UK and have been doing a display in our front garden (yard) since 2014. In the five years it's grown a little with gravestones, earth breakers, full skeletons, occasionally a fog machine, and this year I had an Atmosfear projection in the window, so nothing fancy and pretty basic compared to a lot of home haunters' displays that I've seen from the USA but in the village where we live our display tends to impress people as nobody else goes as far as what we do.

This year, we'd had a lot of ToTs and they (or their parents) exclaimed how much they liked our display. The last ToT had visited around 7:15 pm and just after that my wife noticed (on the CCTV) somebody running up to our front door and then running off, when I got outside I found that a number of the smaller props had been taken.

Whilst the value of the props isn't that much, I do feel gutted and disappointed by this action. Up until now, we were probably very naïve in thinking that everybody would either appreciate our efforts or just ignore them without feeling the need to cause damage or take things. However, we have learned the lesson that not everybody is like that.

As our display has been targeted once we are concerned that it might be again in future years so we are not prepared to risk our equipment, money, nor time, which is a real shame as we had some great ideas planned for future Halloween displays.

Has anybody else decided that they're going to stop doing a display?

Regards,
Robert.
 

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redrum
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This is why I dont do much outside and the minute TOTers are done I take down. Its sad but I dont trust anyone. I have only had a couple of props stolen but even 1 is just sad!
 

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Prior to Halloween day, I put a few items out and assume they will be stolen. If they are still there, then I am happy. I put everything out on the big day and it is fully monitored the entire time. After Halloween, I bring all the expensive or fancy stuff in, even the heavy duty cords. During Halloween, I make sure my garage door is shut and always stand in or near the front door. I am outside the entire event (I don't want anyone to see inside of my house.) I have a lot of tot's so I keep pretty busy. All in all, I would not let one thieving grinch ruin your Halloween experience. There are some Halloween's due to one thing or another that leaves me a little sour and wonder if I will get back into it, but I always seem to catch the Halloween bug and jump back in, usually bigger and better than the year's prior.

One thing I have been contemplating on doing is running a single wire through all of my props and connecting it to an alarm. If the wire gets cut or yanked on, the alarm will trigger with a loud buzzer and a flashing light.
 

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We've been lucky to not have any vandalism or theft of our outside props and decor. Surprising, really, as I expected it.

A couple weeks ago, we decided this year was (probably) our last year and have been telling everyone that. People I don't know or recognize as having talked to before would come up to me on Halloween night and say, "I hear this is the last year," which tells me people have been talking about. We had many people ask us not to stop doing it, and even one person who talked to me about lending a hand through their non-profit (though this conversation seems to have gone nowhere).

As much fun as it has been, there are issues that we haven't found solutions to yet, such as the cost, the storage space, and the vast amount of time it takes us (I was near exhaustion yesterday). And yet, I find that my wife and I are still discussing it.
 

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So sorry to hear that but I guess you know what happened. Do you have a clear image of the person and did you take a photo of your set up where you can show what items were taken? If it were me I would consider posting a sign in your yard letting the public know that on xx/xx because someone walked off with .... that unless the items are returned, you won't be doing halloween set ups any more. A note that you have video cam footage would be another thought. If no response by the second week, maybe even consider adding an image of the person stealing them and see if that gets any response.

We have only set up on Halloween day for this very reason. It is so disheartening to hear this happening to our haunters let alone experience it yourself. I know some people only put out very inexpensive items ahead of time that if they get damaged by wind/rain or stolen at least it's not a big hit to the pocketbook.
 

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I know you are feeling upset by this right now and you may soften your feelings of abandoning setups in the future so as not to punish all those neighborhood kids and parents who have enjoyed your displays without taking anything but candy. So another thought would be to decorate your house windows from inside with minimal decor outside. Easy enough to make fabric ghosts and cheaper foam tombstones etc for the outside that won't be a big loss if you can't stand a naked yard. I know you have done projections so those can still be done from inside. Dressing up in costume is a nice way to greet your trick or treaters while having fun with the holiday. I just hate to see you give up on decorating...:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you to everybody (mrincredibletou, FogMaster, Kwll2112, Ghost of Spookie, and boo who?) who’s replied as it’s very much appreciated. As I said in the first post, the cost of the items wasn’t much, however it was the violation of the Halloween spirit that upset my wife and me.

I believe that some people leave their displays out in their front garden (yard) for several days. Like mrincredibletou we only put things out on the morning and collect them up after the last ToT. Last year I made a note of when sunset was together with the times of the first and last ToT, which was a useful reference for this year.

I appreciate Ghost of Spookie’s comments about the CCTV, unfortunately the thief was wearing a hoodie so there’s no way of identifying them. We had thought about placing a note outside explaining that we were ceasing our displays but have decided against it as it does sound like we’re doing a knee jerk punishment to everybody who does like our displays.

Than you boo who?, your description of filling the scarecrow with chestnut hulls made me laugh!

I think that Ghost of Spookie has hit the nail on the head as projection is the way to continue so nothing is left outside. Our garden (yard) is open with a low hedge on both sides, a completely open front, a path to the front door in the centre with lawn on onside and gravel for parking our vehicles – so it does lend itself to a full projection over the front of the house (which is brick but fortunately painted white) however I’m not a graphics designer so I would have to see if I can find somebody to do it for me. I would have to get a powerful short throw projector, plus speakers, an amplifier, maybe even an FM transmitter (if it’s legal in UK). I will also need a way of securing all of the equipment from being tampered with. This shouldn’t take too much storage (as Kwll2112 mentioned) but we do have an offsite 20ft shipping container that we use for general storage.

Once again many thanks for your kind words,
Robert.
 

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Just another reason my pirate's graveyard haunt goes up on the big day and then comes completely down later that night once ToT is over.
Not saying that everything gets properly put away for the year that same night ( the part that's weeks) but all the outside stuff is down and in the garage by midnight. Part of it is what I like to call the magic of Halloween where the grave yard pops up once a year and then quickly disappears that same night, but sadly, another part of it is not wanting my props stolen or vandalized.
 

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Many good ideas. Personally I’ve experienced a car break in which gutted everything quite literally not screwed down and somethings that were. It a intensely horrible experience. That being said, after the initial shock, I had to decide to either live in fear of “again” or accept that there is good and bad in the world.
While you can go as high tech as you want to protect what’s yours remember you’re dealing with a low tech individual. More of a snatch and grab vandal than a “thief”. Sadly your prop probably landed in a gutter or teenagers wall.
A low tech solution is deep sea fishing leaders and high tensel line. You can search YouTube for political sign revenge. Basically tie everything down when the would be thief goes for the grab and run they only get so far and poof their ill gotten booty flies right out of their hands.
 

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We are also ending our annual Halloween display and yard haunt due to theft. Halloween 2018 was the first season since we began our display that an item was stolen. It happened during the evening of October 30, 2018. It was a clown mask that was ripped off our standing prop at the beginning of our display that was extremely special to us. We are sad to hear of others’ misfortunes and hope everyone takes precautions against theft and vandalism. It made us very sad. We love Halloween and all your displays and haunts you all are sharing on this forum.
 

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Other than cheap tombstones, lights, and webs I wouldnt put the good stuff out low enough to steal unless I am out there with it on halloween. Inside window projections and props hanging up in trees and on the roof are ok. Skeletons climbing the house and on the roof are cool.

If somthing gets vandalized or stolen I wont give in and let them ruin the fun of the ToTs or my family. I will just be more creative in future placement and security or set traps for the varmints.
 

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I'm so sorry this happened to you. We suffered some theft 2 years ago, when we took a chance and left our display up overnight after our party, so I understand your frustration and the feeling of being violated. They got about $250 worth of stuff and it really did dampen our Halloween spirit that year. So we hauled everything in, then put it up a few days later on Halloween and then took it down again that night. SO much extra work just to avoid any additional theft, and it made me really angry. No one gets to appreciate our display ahead of time, we're forced to be a Halloween day mirage that's there and gone in less than 24 hours. My biggest fear for this year was that we were now seen as a target by the thieves and I was afraid they would come back on Halloween and steal right from under our noses. But that did not happen!

This year I had a hard time getting into the spirit and getting things done, not necessarily because of last year's theft but because of some pretty heavy depression. So every effort, every shopping trip, every task, every investment into Halloween felt like an insurmountable chore. I felt like I was trying to jog in mud, and I found myself thinking that "no one appreciates the effort anyway", and I think that was partially because of the theft the year before. I'm glad I was able to power through it somehow, and the display looked better than ever. We helped to give about 200 kids a fun Halloween memory. People said we were their favorite house to visit and they'll be back next year...I can't let them down.

Please don't let the thieves rob you of your Halloween joy, and the joy that you pass on to others. Learn from this horrible thing that happened to you, let it be a lesson, take a breather and see how you feel about it after some time has passed. Next year maybe make some changes, police your display a bit more, but don't let them take this from you.
 

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The Haunting Girl
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I've been very lucky that in the 7 years I've been at my current location that nothing has been tampered with/stolen. I know it happens in other parts of my small town as I see the posts on the town's Facebook group every single year. It's actually the one reason I haven't started advertising my yard to boost my ToT numbers. I don't want to paint a giant target on my growing display/haunt.
I do try to make things as secure as possible within reason. I use a fence, I try to tie things down, etc. I don't have a camera running 24/7 yet or anything, but that hasn't helped stop/capture the tire slasher on the other side of town so it seems kinda pointless. My landlords usually have someone in the house almost 24 hours a day. The one person is a chain smoker which annoys me to no end, but it means he patrolling the yard at all hours of the day and night while he's getting his fix. We also have some great neighbors that keep an eye on things too.
As a best practice, I try to only put out large or hard to take off with stuff first. I tie down all of my inflatables and run them most of the day to discourage theft. I know if someone wants something enough that they are going to find a way to take off with it. It's a careful balance between security and getting the most time out of my display. My more delicate and most prized items usually don't go out until right before Halloween or on Halloween depending my schedule and the weather. I start breaking down my display right after ToT ends. I pull in as much as I can handle and it gets packed away or staged for disassembly. The whole yard is packed up or secured in the house by 3pm on November 1st. It helps keep up the illusion that the yard is magic for kids.
 

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I've doing my haunted yard for over 20 years now, and in all that time I've had one mask stolen off a prop that was right next to the road. We've been very fortunate, knock on wood. I do restrict expensive things to Halloween itself, and they come down before we go to bed. We also have a PVC fence around the grave yard that would make smash and grab a little more difficult.
 

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Having anything stolen is devastating because it leaves us with a sense that nothing we have is safe. But we've always done our best to move beyond thefts in our neighborhood and our own home. We've had two vehicles broken into, so we don't delude ourselves about the neighborhood we live in, or just how easily it is to grab something and run. But we also know that what we enjoy about Halloween goes beyond the items we create, and we don't let the fear of something going missing dissuade us from putting stuff out every Halloween.

Our advice to you is let time put a bit of distance between you and the theft of your items. If in a few months you still feel the same way, then the risk of items going missing is probably too great for you to have to deal with it every Halloween season. Keep to indoor displays that you can safely guard. We love the projections in our windows, and there are so many great options now a days. Just changing out the lights on the porch can change everything. We replace our porch lights with those large flame LED lights, and it adds atmosphere without much risk.

But if after a couple of months you start to feel like Halloween is your day and you're not going to let anything stop you from doing what you enjoy, then we would suggest you consider staying that one shining example of Halloween spirit in your neighborhood. Simply make it tougher for thieves to dampen your spirits by making it tougher for them to walk off with anything.

Each year we go through our props and decide which ones we will leave out all season. Mostly those props fall into two categories. The first group is tombstones, jack-o-lanterns, and other props that if they vanished I would be able to say to myself, "they had a good run. Time to make or buy another." Strangely enough, the only tombstones ever to be damaged have been by squirrels who use them to try and get to the bird feeders. Our larger tombstones have always stayed where they are staked to the ground.

Some of the fanciest tombstones we have are put out only on the weekends and Halloween night when we invite people over to come view the graveyard. Any other day the graveyard looks pretty sparse. There are about six tombstones that stay out all season. They remind people walking by that the big day is not far off. But if they are stolen some night, we'll get by. We won't stop because they disappear.

The second group are those items that are secured well and the likelihood of them being stolen is very slim. These include the larger mausoleum facades that are secured to the house. Some are screwed into place, others bolted, and some zip tied, but they're all big, cumbersome objects. We're fairly confident they won't get stolen. We don't have much vandalism in our neighborhood, so we're willing to take a chance and leave them out all season. They're also so big that the house looks decorated without much else.

Only a few other props are left out all season. Our cauldron creep is one of the props that stayed out all season, because taking him down takes over half an hour of rather complex removal of stakes that pin him to the ground. While I'm a bit hesitant about leaving him out, I realize I can't put him up and take him down every day as I do with the tombstones, so instead he is secured to the ground in a way that is far more complex and involved than I think any thief would want to deal with. I felt that way and we own him. hahaha.

We know we're living in a very imperfect world and bad things can happen to good Halloween props. But we're ready for those days and we're not going to let it keep us from doing what we love. Halloween is our night to create new memories for the next generation of a time we remember as kids. As long as we're able, we'll be putting out stuff in our yard. And I'll be outside wandering around talking to the adults who come to visit and seeing if they want hot dogs or hot cider to warm them up. And upstairs the kids will find a guy in a strange werewolf hat asking them which candy bar they want. It's who we are. It's what we do. No one will stop us from doing that if we just have the time to remember what it is we really want from Halloween.
 
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