A woman in Mayfair was apparently in too little — or too much — of a holiday spirit this year.

Over the last few months, neighbors noticed that Halloween, Christmas, and other holiday decorations were being taken from their lawns, patios and windows. They posted about the missing items on the Mayfair Matters Facebook page.

But it wasn't until Thursday night, when one neighbor saw a woman take a lighted, 4-foot Christmas tree from outside a home and carry it to her rowhouse a few blocks away, that police were able to solve the mystery, Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum of Northeast Detectives said Friday.

"This is probably one of the most odd jobs that we've had in recent years," he said.

David McBride collected his Christmas decorations from the Brighton Street house on Friday.
GENEVA HEFFERNAN / Staff Photographer
David McBride collected his Christmas decorations from the Brighton Street house on Friday.

After the neighbor reported what she saw to police, officers took a 42-year-old woman into custody and got a search warrant for her house on the 3100 block of Brighton Street, which they executed Friday morning.

After entering the house about 6 a.m., officers found Easter, Halloween and Christmas decorations, lawn ornaments, wreaths, strings of lights, garlands, and holiday signs that said "Merry Christmas" and "Let it snow," Rosenbaum said.

The items, he said, were "piled up" inside, he added. Rosenbaum said the woman had taken 200 to 400 holiday decorations from her neighbors. Some of them she put on her own lawn.

Gwenn Curran, of Mayfair
Philadelphia Police
Gwenn Curran, of Mayfair

The woman was identified by police on Monday as Gwenn Curran. She was charged with numerous counts of theft and receiving stolen property. She remained in custody at a city jail after not posting bail.

After the warrant was executed Friday, police remained in the house while neighbors came by to reclaim their stolen decorations. Police said it appeared she lived alone.

"The neighbors are ecstatic that they got their stuff back," Rosenbaum said.

Jim Emme, 70, who lives on the 3200 block of Brighton, was one of those neighbors. He said that about 20 Halloween and Christmas decorations had been taken from his front patio and flower beds. They included five porcelain jack-o'-lanterns that were on his patio coffee table and had to be unplugged. Yanked out of his flower beds were scarecrows, a wooden Frankenstein and wooden skeleton for Halloween.

Then, more recently, there were the Christmas decorations, including a 5-foot snowman with a hat and carrot nose that was on his patio and tied to a shutter with string, a wooden nutcracker soldier by his front door, and a sled ornament that was hanging from a front window.

And from the flower beds, a lit-up polar bear and burlap squirrel were stolen, he said.

Both times he reported the thefts to police, Emme said. He said he didn't know the woman who allegedly took the items. On Friday morning, he recovered his decorations, put them in his truck, and put them back up in front of his house, he said.

"This woman was a hoarder," said Emme.

His wife, Peggy, added: "She stole our Christmas spirit."