A $500 reward is offered for the identification and arrest of vandals who struck TMT Farms Tuesday night, destroying several mannequins and an inflatable reindeer at the drive-through Christmas lights display on Old River Road North.
Bulloch County Commissioner Roy Thompson and his family decorate the farm each year, starting months ahead of time to string lights and arrange holiday sculptures, inflatables and other attractions across several wooded acres. Visitors come from all across Georgia and from other states. While admission is free, donations of food and toys bring blessings to numerous families in need.
Sometime during the night Tuesday, vandals struck, destroying a special inflatable reindeer and four mannequins that were part of a historic display on the farm.
While the property is covered in lights and Christmas décor during the holiday season, the farm is a year-round museum of sorts, with a faux Western town, antique farm equipment, classic cars and several replicas of historical Statesboro icons such as Henry’s ladies’ store, Snooky’s restaurant, and the Pavilion from the Statesboro-Bulloch County Recreation Department, all now a part of the past.
The mannequins destroyed were at the Henry’s display. Vandals also slashed a massive white reindeer that was in Thompson’s son Tyler’s front yard — a special decoration chosen by Thompson’s granddaughter Mylee.
Last year, thieves broke into the toy trailer at the farm, stealing loads of toys that had been donated for children of less advantaged families. The public responded to the reported theft with an outpouring of new donations to replace the toys, and tighter security measures are now in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Thompson also has had problems with people leaving trash and debris such as beer cans on his property and stuffing portable toilets with dirty diapers and other garbage. However, this year’s vandalism struck close to the heart, he said.
“It bothers me that much that someone would do something like this,” he said, adding that Mylee had personally picked out the white reindeer inflatable to go in her yard. “She loved that deer.”
The mannequins were destroyed beyond repair.
He said four white males, ranging in ages between 18 and 22, were seen walking the property, acting in an obnoxious manner.
“An out-of-town couple ran them out of the chapel (part of the Western town) because they were banging on the piano and organ, and they went across and tried to break into a paper box” that was at another display, “thinking maybe there was money in there,” he said.
A social media post by TMT Farms about the vandalism brought a surge of public reaction, and several, including members of two local motorcycle groups, have volunteered to serve as security for the annual display, he said.
The Chosen Soldiers Motorcycle Association and the Iron Order Motorcycle Club of Georgia will be patrolling the grounds this weekend, he said.
Thompson said he invites the offenders back to enjoy the display this weekend.
“I’d like to meet them,” he said.
Anyone with information about the offenders is asked to contact Thompson at Statesboro Floor Covering at (912) 764-2558 or the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office at (912) 764-8888.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.