Weird Crime: Flight of the pink flamingos

For the past four years, 68-year-old retiree Arthur O’Neil has decorated his lawn with a flock of pink plastic flamingos. While many people find the cliché lawn ornaments to be incredibly tacky, O’Neil’s were actually very well received by his neighbors. This is probably due to the fact that he dresses them up in festive outfits based on various holidays, events, and seasons. (In case you are having trouble believing that, keep reading).
One day, O’Neil stepped outside and was shocked to find that nearly all of his pink plastic friends had been stolen. Disheartened and dismayed, O’Neil was ready to give up on his hobby (even though he often received letters of thanks from the community), but someone actually donated money so that he could replace the stolen lawn ornaments.

Totally worth the sacrifice
Unfortunately, a group of thieves continued to steal the flamingos over the next few months. O’Neil set up surveillance equipment was even able to snap a few photos of the burglars in action, but no positive identification could be made.
Then one day, a flamingo was actually returned to O’Neil…with a ransom note scribbled on the side. It read:
“We have the flamingos…. If you ever want to see Arturo and his friends again, call [this number].”
“Arturo” is apparently the name that O’Neil had bestowed on one of his lawn ornaments.
Now on this point, let’s stop the tape for the second. Whenever I write one of these Weird Crime articles, I try to cite a large and varied selection of sources. This is not just to help prove the incident’s authenticity, but also because these types of stories often have multiple viewpoints or aspects that are not picked up in just one brief news report.
Yet in every news source that I read, the fact that Arthur O’Neil actually NAMES his plastic flamingos…and the fact that the thieves KNOW THE NAME of one of his plastic flamingos…doesn’t seem to be much more than an afterthought. I can’t be the only one who thinks that’s weird, right?

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