Police searching for thief stealing sentimental yard decor from older Blue Springs residents

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- Police say stealing from older people is one of the lowest forms of crime.

Detectives in Blue Springs are searching for whomever is stealing yard decorations from one community off R.D. Mize Road. In many cases, those ornaments have strong sentimental value to their owners, most of whom are of retirement age or older.

Blue Springs police said they've received as many as 20 reports from people living in the Vespers neighborhood, a community with a large retired population, concerning small ceramic lawn ornaments being stolen from their yards.

That includes Dorothy Gatewood, a widowed retiree, who said more than 100 ceramic frogs were taken from her rock garden.

"I'd do most anything to get them back," Gatewood told FOX4.

The empty spaces in the rock island in front of her home used to be filled with frogs. Gatewood said she's collected the keepsakes since 1999 when she received one as a gift. That was shortly after her husband, Tom Gatewood, a retired electrician, died after fighting cancer. She said the frogs still connect her to him.

"I can't imagine anyone doing that and thinking they were doing it for fun when it's left me with a hole in my heart," Gatewood said.

She explained the word "frog" is actually an acronym to her: "Fully rely on God." She also explained that frogs have to move forward, as they are physically incapable of moving backward.

"That's what I've done ever since," Gatewood said.

Blue Springs Police say the knickknacks are no cheap item to them since the stolen frogs could cost a total $500.

Gatewood isn't alone, either, according to Jennifer Dachenhausen, a crime analyst with Blue Springs police. She said officers were called out on four similar calls during the weekend alone.

"When you target an elderly community, that's people with no heart. They have no respect for anybody. When they come in and do stuff like this in this multitude, how many we've had, that just takes the cake," Dachenhausen said Tuesday.

She said police have noticed some Vespers residents have just returned from weekend trips out of town, and they may be discovering thefts only now. Patrol officers will be working those streets heavily to guard against more crime.

If you know who may be stealing keepsakes from these homeowners, please contact Blue Springs Police Department at 816-228-0151. The agency can also be contacted via its Facebook page.