The hunt launched by police in Sea Girt, New Jersey, for a vandal who damaged a popular Christmas lights display ended Saturday morning with the arrest of a squirrel. The police uploaded a picture of the perpetrator along with a statement on its Twitter page which said officials had caught the squirrel who was responsible for causing the upheaval in their town.
“The squirrel was 'charged' with criminal mischief and released on bail,” the press release read.
Sea Girt, a borough in Monmouth County, New Jersey is known for its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. However, several Christmas lights were found cut/nibbled last week and residents initially suspected young vandals were trying to derail the ceremony, which took place Friday. Police said that ever since the news of the nibbled wires came to light, workers raced to repair the damaged wires so that the tree lighting ceremony wouldn't get affected. In addition, authorities were also keeping a close eye on the display to get a hold of whoever was responsible for the act, an NBC owned-and-operated television station, NBC-TV reported Saturday. The Sea Girt police now confirmed that it was not a vandal but a squirrel, who was nibbling at the wires.
However, Fox News on Sunday reported the police still hadn't caught the squirrel and the Christmas display will now be under constant surveillance to make sure that the animal didn't strike again.
Earlier in the week, speaking about the incident, one of the residents, John Shibles, said he was surprised to hear about the possibility of vandalism. “This is Mayberry RFD, probably the first vandalism we've had in 10 years," he said.
On Thursday, Sea Girt Police captainJustin Macko showed NBC 4 News some of the damaged wires, Daily Mail reported. “It tells me they (vandals) definitely wanted to do it and they want to accomplish their goal of making sure the lights don't work,” he said.
The discovery of the cut wires came just a week after pumpkins were found smashed outside Fratello's Italian Restaurant. However, the restaurant owner, Chris DeCresce did not think that the two events were connected and said youngsters were to be blamed for the smashed pumpkins. “It sounds like a young act to me,” Fox News reported.
Interestingly, this is not the first case when a squirrel kept the authorities on their toes. According to a report in July, New York Health Department officials warned people in New York City about a possible rabid and "unusually aggressive squirrel" after five individuals, including a seven-year-old girl, were bitten in a Brooklyn park.
The squirrel reportedly intimidated people near the park’s entrance on Parkside and Ocean Avenues. This odd behavior led many to believe that the squirrel could have rabies. In reference to the case, wildlife expertssaid any squirrel could be aggressive.
"They have really sharp teeth and jaws to crack nuts, for them to bite, it’s nothing," Rita McMahan, director of Wild Bird Fund, a wildlife center located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, told the New York Times.