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10.21.22 – Texas Monthly

There’s nary a week that passes when, in some corner of Texas, someone isn’t getting up to something that we can only describe as “antics.” These stories capture our attention and imagination, and we explore them in Meanwhile, in Texas.

Forget inflatable ghosts and comical gravestones. Painted pumpkins are so passé, and don’t even get us started on those witches who seem to crash into the trees of every front yard in suburban America. The most desirable creature this Halloween is Home Depot’s twelve-foot-tall yard skeleton. Just ask a single mom in Northwest Austin, who had one stolen right out of her front yard. 

What happened? 

On Saturday, October 15, an unidentified person drove into a Northwest Austin condo community, casually loaded somebody else’s enormous plastic skeleton decoration in the back of a white GMC Denali SUV, and then drove off. KXAN was the first to report the Halloween heist.

That’s terrifying! What sort of monster would do something so depraved? 

No one knows! Although it does appear the thief is a brunette woman in a red scarf (and not a redhead, as reported by many outlets less committed to fact-checking than this one). The exact height of the skeleton was also in dispute; though it’s been widely reported as fourteen feet, eagle-eyed Reddit commenters identified the model as this twelve-foot beaut from Home Depot. Regardless, it’s big-boned.

How did the thief get away with this? Must’ve been under cover of darkness. 

Nope. The most haunting aspect of the crime was that it took place in broad daylight—just before 5 p.m. on Saturday, according to condo HOA board president Grazia Ruskin. “The act was incredibly brazen, to say the least,” Ruskin told MySA.

Then the thief must be a criminal mastermind!

No, the crime was committed in full view of a neighbor’s front-door surveillance camera. Law enforcement authorities have the highly entertaining footage, which has since gone viral. The two-minute clip shows the bandit parking directly in front of the big guy, unceremoniously toppling it from its perch on the front lawn, and struggling to stuff it into the back of the Denali. (Tantalizingly, the video ends before we can see how, exactly, the spooky swindler managed to squeeze the skeleton in.) Neighbors are asking for help identifying the suspect. They also pitched in to offer a $50 reward for any information that leads to the poor creature’s return. Send tips to oakshadowsatx@gmail.com!