Pur­loined South Tampa elf re­turns to his porch.

Tampa Bay Times - - Local - BY TONY MARRERO Con­tact Tony Marrero at tmar­[email protected]­pabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Fol­low @tmar­rerotimes.

TAMPA — The pil­fered South Tampa elf is back on its porch.

Two Tampa po­lice of­fi­cers re­turned a three-foot-tall Christ­mas statue to a home on South Ore­gon Av­enue on Wed­nes­day night, one week af­ter a sur­veil­lance cam­era there cap­tured the thief in the act.

The de­part­ment posted video of the crime on its Facebook page Mon­day and the Tampa

Bay Times fea­tured the theft in a story pub­lished on­line Wed­nes­day about stolen hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions.

By then, in­ves­ti­ga­tors had al­ready re­ceived “some promis­ing tips” and iden­ti­fied the thief, a 20-year-old man who ad­mit­ted to tak­ing the elf on a dare, ac­cord­ing to a Wed­nes­day night post on the de­part­ment’s Facebook page.

“He ex­pressed re­morse and hap­pily re­turned the Christ­mas elf statue,” the post says. “The young man has never been in trou­ble be­fore. (We checked. Twice.) The home­owner did not wish to press charges for what would have amounted to a mis­de­meanor petit theft.”

The post fea­tured a short video, shot by the same sur­veil­lance cam­era, of two uni­formed of­fi­cers car­ry­ing the statue up the stairs and plac­ing it in its right­ful spot.

The post con­tin­ued: “The mes­sage to would-be thieves: You bet­ter watch out — be­cause Santa, sur­veil­lance cam­eras, and TPD are keep­ing an eye out for Grinches, porch pi­rates, and pack­age thieves this year.”

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