BEIRUT: Thieves who stole 40 ornamental flamingos from a man’s front lawn have sent back one of the plastic birds with a ransom note and phone number.
Retired Massachusetts homeowner Arthur O’Neil has been making different themed displays of the fake pink flamingos for the past four years – including scenes of the birds playing golf, graduating from high school, and playing music in a rock band – but a string of thefts that started in May left him with much of the flock missing.
“People drive by. They love it, the neighborhood loves it,” the 68-year-old told WHDH, a local TV news station earlier this week.
“Basically what it said, ‘if you want to see Arturo and your friends again, please call this number,’” said O’Neil, who managed to capture night-time images of two of the thieves following his end-of-July Christmas party, and handed them over to authorities. “I thought, ‘okay, not bad guys.’”
“They’re young people and they think it’s a joke. Fine,” he added.
O’Neil, who hasn’t called the phone number and doesn’t want to press charges because he believes the police has more serious crimes to deal with, says he just wants the rest of the birds to return to the flock.
“Come to daddy. I’ll do it up to a certain point but eventually I will give up and say, ‘you won guys,’” O’Neil said.
The local newspaper the Sun Chronicle has been reporting on the thefts since they started occurring in May.
This week, when they visited O’Neil to follow up on the story, the flamingos wearing golfing attire in tribute to the PGA Deutsche Bank Championship at the TPC in Norton.
“Right now they’re playing a three-hole golf course and around the 19th hole, they’re just relaxing,” O’Neil told the newspaper.
“If it wasn’t for the rain, I would have gone out and changed them into something else today,” he said, noting the golf tournament concluded Monday.
He says he does the themed flamingos in his yard “to make people smile.”