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Christmas decorations stolen after autistic teen loses mother

Posted at 5:15 PM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 18:54:48-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It's a story about a local Grinch who literally stole someone's Christmas.

"I made a sign out of frustration and I put it in the yard," homeowner Connie Brown said. "I wanted the thieves to understand that they didn't take just the material things that they could sell or put in their yard -- or whatever they wanted it for -- they took something that is a part of our lives."

Over the years, Brown has collected Grinch decorations for her yard. Early Sunday morning, she said her 17-year-old great nephew, Tristian Neal, noticed they were missing.

"Because when the thieves stole our decorations it made me feel furious," Neal said. "But just knowing how the community came together to give us our decorations just put a great joy inside my heart."

Brown posted about it on buyer-and-seller websites just in case someone saw her decorations for sale.

"And maybe some kid out there did it and maybe they will look at it and say you know what I shouldn't do that and maybe it will keep them from doing it the next time," Brown said.

But it wasn't just about the decorations, it was about stealing the cheer from Neal's already somber Christmas.

Brown said every year Neal and his mother would visit her for vacation. But this past August everything changed.

"On the last day of their visit here, she had a heart attack," she said. "And passed away a few days later."

"And whenever she passed, it was just me, my Aunt Connie and my dog, Gracie, and (Connie's) dogs," Neal said.

"It was a fun day just trying to lighten things up," said Brown, who is now Neal's legal guardian. "This is his first Christmas without his mom, you know, it's going to be a little different."

She said, so far, her post has had a lot of traction online.

And leave it to the Christmas spirit -- in our community -- instead of stealing, people are giving. Every morning when Brown and Neal wake up, they find new decorations in their yard.

As Neal's new guardian, Brown said she is still learning how to properly assist someone with autism and would appreciate any info or help.

If you want to help Brown and Connie with information about autism, you can CLICK HERE to reach Brown on Facebook.