Editor’s note: On December 11, the Seguin Police Department announced—through a Facebook post comprised of rhyming couplets—that the culprit returned the tree to Whataburger. The unnamed individual, who stole the tree on a dare, will do community service.
This holiday season, Whoville’s grumpiest resident turned Max and his sleigh towards Whataburger.
The Christmas spirit was stolen at 12:20 a.m. on Tuesday from a Whataburger in Seguin. Grainy surveillance camera footage shows an individual wearing a Seattle Seahawks jersey and a green Santa hat entering Whataburger, grabbing the tree—which employees bought and handmade ornaments for—and running out. The green outfit and joy-stealing mission reminded the Seguin Police Department of someone: a previous offender with a heart two sizes too small.
“When the investigating officer brought in a video of the theft of a Christmas tree and mentioned the word ‘Grinch,’ we realized we had the perfect storm: the Grinch, Christmas time, and our beloved Whataburger,” says Seguin Deputy Police Chief Bruce Ure. “Our mission was to catch a crook, but we decided to have a little fun with it.”
“The Grinch Who Stole the Whataburger Christmas Tree,” also known as SPD Case #17-64712, is brought to you by the studio—er, police department—behind classics like “Mr. Suave“ (SPD Case #17-7223, theft of property) and “Mr. Chicken Legs and Ms. No Shame” (SPD Case #17-32081, burglary of a motor vehicle and credit card abuse). The two-man social media team at the Seguin Police Department—Ure and Public Information Officer Carlos Contreras—has posted an estimated 40 videos on the department’s Facebook page over the past three years, created to solicit tips about open cases from community members and to promote public safety. “We made a conscious decision to get away from the typical police jargon, to talk like human beings,” Ure says. “Plus, the world needs to smile a bit more. If we can accomplish our mission and get a couple of smiles, that’s a bonus for us.”
The unconventional approach has helped the department get results: according to Ure, a funny video usually leads to a significant uptick in phone calls from community members. Besides, people seem to enjoy referring to “Mr. Chicken Legs” rather than “Case #17-32081.” “People might not remember a case number—we give them nicknames so that when a tip comes in, they can say, ‘we have a tip on Mr. Suave,’” Contreras says. “It’s more fun for us in the station too—we get a kick out of it.”
Ure and Contreras wouldn’t comment on the status of an ongoing investigation, but they urge any friends or family of the Grinch to give a call. “If someone knows who this Grinch is, we would encourage them to call the police department at our non-emergency number: (830)-379-2123,” Contreras says.
To encourage the good Samaritans of Whoville, the department is offering a particularly Texan incentive. “Call us, because there’s a free gift card in it to Whataburger,” Ure says. “What better reward is there than a Whataburger gift card?”