Thieves take treasured family heirloom from Novato house that won ABC's 'The Great Christmas Light Fight'

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ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Thieves hit Novato's famous Christmas house
In addition to two cell phones, the family is now missing a small nativity scene that had been on a shelf in one of the bedrooms.

NOVATO, Calif. (KGO) -- Twice now, thieves have hit a nationally-recognized holiday display in Novato that's so famous that this year it won first place on ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight." The family says they welcome some 3,000 people a night inside their home and now a treasured heirloom is missing.

After 28 years of giving Christmas joy to their friends and neighbors by decorating their house on Devonshire Drive, the Rombeiro family has learned, the hard way, that even Santa and his reindeer need video surveillance.

In addition to two cellphones, the family is now missing a small nativity scene that had been on a shelf in what used to be the grandmother's bedroom.

"It was a nativity scene with an angel and it was my grandma's grandma," said Kathy Rombeiro.

Aside from the couple of phones two weeks ago, hundreds of thousands of visitors have taken nothing from the house in 28 years. How's that for an act of trust?

RELATED: Novato family wins ABC's 'The Great Christmas Light Fight'

"I think most people are like us," said Mary Jo Rombeiro. "We go to a place like a house, we won't take anything."

She went on to say, "I was telling my daughter Kathy if this keeps like that, I will not open the door anymore because we won't trust people anymore."

That would be a shame, a case of 21st century kleptomania infringing on this scene of timeless, magical innocence. The Rombeiro family gave. Someone stole. The symbolism, crushing.

"Maybe they needed it more than us," said Kathy.

That's a charitable sentiment.

The family plans to keep this tradition going for at least another two years. They may need to be a bit more careful about watching people, though.