'Truckloads' of Xmas decorations stolen

WESTMINSTER, Calif. Vuong Pham, 48, was taken into custody around 11 a.m. at his home in the 8400 block of Heil Avenue, said Westminster police Officer Cameron Knauerhaze said.

Police recovered stolen holiday decorations and other landscape items, including water fountains, trees, garden statues and small lights used for walkways, Knauerhaze said.

Other allegedly stolen property included reindeer and snowmen decorations and faux Christmas trees, said Westminster police Sgt. Jim Kingsmill. At least 16 neighbors of Pham were the victims of the thefts, according to police.

"He was bringing (the decorations) home and putting them in the living room and the bedrooms," Kingsmill said. "He wasn't displaying them outside."

Pham had a 6-foot bird fountain in his living room, he said.

One room was filled with reindeer, Knauerhaze said.

Authorities used two city trucks and a police truck to haul the goods away, he said, adding that "it was not just the back seat of a patrol car."

"At first glance, I'd estimate (the worth) close to $5,000," Knauerhaze said.

The investigation began when police were called to his home on Saturday in response to a disturbance and saw an unusual number of decorations inside and in the backyard, Knauerhaze said.

Investigators recalled that there had been many reports of theft in the area of Newland Street and Heil Avenue, which borders Westminster and Huntington Beach, Knauerhaze said.

The thefts took place within about a one- or two-mile radius of Pham's home, Kingsmill said.

Some owners had reported the thefts, but some had not, Kingsmill said.

"We are thrilled some families will be getting their decorations back before Christmas, especially in these challenging times," Knauerhaze said.

Pham was arrested on suspicion of grand theft and possession of stolen property.

Knauerhaze said that the process of returning the property could take several days.

He said police urge residents to mark their property to help in future investigations.

Anyone with information about the case was asked to call Detective Michael Nguyen at (714) 898- 3315, ext. 529.

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