By Velena Jones

NATOMAS (CBS13) – The search is on for a grinch who is stealing holiday cheer this early in the year in Natomas as the thief stole a pickup truck and U-Haul trailer filled with decades of Christmas spirit.

Christmas is much more than a holiday for Tom Yambasky.

“There’s just so many memories tied up there for myself, my daughters, and all the family around,” he said.

For 18 years, Tom has lit up his North Natomas neighborhood with thousands of decorations. Usually starting about a month early, Tom would not only decorate his home but his neighbors’ houses as well. He strings up lights from home to home to make his neighborhood winter wonderland complete. Tom even brings in snow from Tahoe, for kids to have a snow ball fight.

His love for decorations and holiday cheer started more than five decades ago.

“I would decorate my parents’ house when I was in my teens,” Tom said. “In fact, one of my most treasured things was a three-piece nativity scene that I had kept since then and we had put it out every year.”

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That nativity set was stolen along with hundreds of other decorations overnight Thursday. Tom parked his tan 2007 Ford F-250 and rented U-Haul trailer outside his hotel near 2800 Gateway Oaks Blvd. He checked on the car at around 10 p.m. on Thursday and by 5 a.m. Friday, his truck and those thousands of decorations were gone.

“My heart just sank,” Tom said. “It sank even more because I thought about what was in it.”

It’s a road bump during a move out of state that Tom didn’t expect. Tom has so many decorations, he had to rent the U-Haul trailer to get all of them to his new home in Washington. He estimates the decorations cost thousands of dollars.

Sacramento police found his trailer hours after it was reported stolen near A and 16th streets in the outskirts of Downtown Sacramento. When the U-Haul was recovered, Tom said the thief had tore most of his things out of the trailer, broke items and took some of the decorations for themselves. Police are still searching for his truck with the rest of his decorations.

“I don’t understand. I could understand if it was clothes and stuff people needed but going through Christmas decorations – I just don’t get it,” he said.

For Tom, these aren’t just decorations. It’s decades of love, memories, and inspiration he’s shared with his community. Now he is hoping for an early Christmas miracle. Despite the loss, it’s not stealing his holiday spirit.

“To me the whole reason for Christmas is Jesus, these are things that will pass, but that’s more important,” Tom said.

Police are still searching for his Ford F-250 with the license plate number 13165D2.

Velena Jones

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