More than 100 pumpkins were taken from residential areas in Hillsboro sometime during the early morning hours of Oct. 31 and were then placed in the courtyard at the women’s quad on the Tabor College campus.
Beth Riffel, director of communications, said some young people, in the spirit of fun, did not make good decisions when taking the pumpkins.
“This is a classic example of not understanding the heartbreak these young people caused to (local) children,” he said.
Several parents searched for their children’s pumpkins through the myriad gourds scattered around the courtyard after college officials reported the incident on Facebook.
For many parents, stealing a child’s carved pumpkin was bewildering. Laura Paulus, one of many residents affected by the theft, said her children decorated six pumpkins and all of them were stolen in front of their home.
She said she couldn’t understand why the “pranksters” took the carved ones. “I would like them to look my 3-year-old (in the eye) and have to explain why they did this,” she said.
Another mother, who asked to remain anonymous, had about 12 pumpkins stolen from her porch on Lincoln Street.
Even though no suspects have been identified, some parents are blaming college students because of where the pumpkins ended up.
“I don’t understand why these college kids would do something like this—particularly after the community has opened their arms to them,” she said. “My 4-year-old daughter is in tears.”
One parent said this incident was a “sick joke” and believes someone had to have seen something.
Another mother, who lives on West Grand and Date Street, said 12 pumpkins were taken from their home, adding that her friend’s husband spent a long time carving about half of them.
Dan Kinning, Hillsboro chief of police, said the areas hit were scattered across the city.
One mother said the culprits even stole pumpkins from the Carriage Hills neighborhood on the south edge of town.
“What makes this even more sad,” she said, “is that several children picked out their very own pumpkins at either Jirak’s or Walter’s pumpkin patch.”
Hillsboro wasn’t the only town with pranksters stealing pumpkins. In Marion, Carlson’s Grocery left pumpkins and gourds outside. Mitch Carlson, co-owner of the store and working in produce, said about 30 pumpkins were stolen.
Another woman had three large pumpkins taken from her home on the east side of Marion. The large pumpkin would have required several people to move it.
If anyone has information that can help the Hillsboro or Marion police departments in apprehending those responsible, call 620-947-3440 or 620-382-2651, respectively.
Information also can be directed to Riffel at Tabor College by calling 620-947-3121.She also encourages anyone who had pumpkins taken from their property to call the Student Life office, 620-947-3121, ext. 1033.
“The college wishes to acknowledge everyone’s loss,” she said.