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Burned banner depresses holiday spirit

Vandals burned a 50-foot Christmas banner in front of a Largo residence Thursday evening.

Homeowner Bill Miller hung the banner on his vinyl fence about a week ago. It read: "Hark the Herald Angels Sing Glory to the Newborn King."

He left his home at 12577 115th St. N around 7:15 p.m. for Thanksgiving dinner with his wife and daughter, he said.

When he returned at about 8:30 p.m., a large part of the sign had burned away and melted onto the fence. His daughter, Ashley, 9, burst into tears when she saw it, he said.

As of Friday, there were no suspects, police said.

The banner, which Miller put up for the first time this year, cost only $8. Damage to the fence will cost him several hundred dollars.

"I don't know why anyone would destroy it," he said. "Maybe they have something against God or something against the world."

Holiday vandalism usually involves people stealing decorations from front yards, not the burning of someone's religious statement, said Largo Officer Tara Hansen.

"This seems more personal," she said. "Maybe there is an issue with a neighbor, or maybe some kids walked by with a cigarette and set it on fire by accident."

Hansen said vandalism increases during the holidays because people have items in their yards. Residents should avoid putting out valuable or sentimental items, she said.

"They've been taking people's sprinkler heads, so some people don't even want to put out holiday decorations at all," she said.