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Caught on Camera: Neighbor Scares Off Man Trying to Steal 12-Foot Skeleton From ‘Joy House'

The homeowners have since cleaned up the mess, but it left them a little disheartened, to the point where they decided to pack everything up and put it back in the garage, until neighbors begged them not to

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A San Diego home that has brought joy to so many during the pandemic because of a simple sign, that reads "joy", was recently vandalized. A would-be thief tried to steal a 12-foot skeleton that was added to the display for Halloween.

At the corner of Zion Avenue and Crawford Street, a neighborhood in Allied Gardens stands a tall, bony, creature. The 12-foot skeleton -- that glows at night and moves its eyes -- was recently added to a display that sits outside the home, affectionately known as the “Joy House.”

“It is acquired that nickname over the years,” homeowner Lindsay Mitchell said.

During the pandemic, the homeowners put up the massive joy sign. It was once a Christmas decoration, but they felt it was fitting since people needed a little spark during a really dark time. It’s touched neighbors, drivers and even people who go to the Kaiser Permanente, across the street.

“I’ve gotten several letters on my doorstep from people who are patients at the hospital, for people who work at the hospital,” Mitchell said. “After they’ve received chemotherapy, after they’ve gotten off of shift and it’s just, really made it all worth it.”

For Halloween, Mitchell and her husband added the popular skeleton that’s hard to find because stores sell out of it every Halloween. It has attracted even more attention to the home, including a would-be thief.

A neighbor caught the man on camera destroying the display in an attempt to take the skeleton.

“I don’t know what he was thinking because he was working alone,” Mitchell said. “It took us all day to set that up and this guy just thinks he’s going to take this and disassemble it in the middle of the night; I don’t know, carry it home or what he was going to do with it, but it was not happening for him.”

The neighbor scared the man off, but the damage had been done. Mitchell wanted to pack up the display and tuck it away in the garage, but first, she wanted to know how neighbors would feel.

“I feel that this is the community's as much as it is mine so I kind of took a vote on the Nextdoor post and the response that we got from that was just overwhelming.”

More than 300 neighbors commented, asking them to keep it up. That’s why this display is not just a decoration. It’s about sparking hope in the lives of people who need it most. And luckily this time, no one could steal their joy.

“I wanted everybody to be able to drive by and see this and remember that we’re all human beings and to not lose faith in humanity just yet. And it really has been my purpose for keeping it up this entire time,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said they have booby-trapped the display so if anyone tries to steal it again, they’ll be in for a surprise.

The skeleton will be kept up through Halloween. The joy sign, however, is on its last leg. The lights no longer work and there is damage from the vandalism.

The Mitchells plan to keep it up through the end of the year and hope someone may be willing to repurpose the sign.

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