Bruce Barnett went to a lot of trouble to light Guilford's community Christmas tree in Sherwood Gardens late last month.

He chose a smaller tree when the old one grew too tall to string with lights. He even hired an electrician to run power to the new tree, complete with its own electrical outlet.

Then, he strung it with lights, so it looked radiant at night during the holiday season.

But last week, Barnett confirmed the unthinkable.


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"Someone did in fact steal the lights off the tree," aid Barnett, a resident of Guilford, a physics professor at Johns Hopkins university and a longtime caretaker of Sherwood Gardens.

Barnett said he discovered the lights missing a day or two after a story about the new tree was published in the Dec. 1 issue of the Baltimore Messenger. The timer for the light was there, so he called fellow Guilford resident Geoff Lord, who had hooked up the timer, and asked, "Did you take the lights?"

"No," he said Lord told him. "I didn't take the lights."

The 12-foot tree, which was planted about four years ago in honor of a Guilford resident who died, now has about 150 new lights and a new timer set to light the tree between dusk and dawn, Barnett said.

"Hopefully, they'll stay," he said Friday. "We'll see."

Barnett said there's not much the community can do in the way of providing security.

"We could get a dog," he quipped.

It's not the first plant theft at Sherwood Gardens, Barnett said. In the spring, "we've had cases where someone will come and dig up five marigolds," he said.

In the scheme of things, the theft of holiday lights is hardly a major crime. Still, it rankles Barnett.

"I understand people stealing a Lexus," he said. "I don't understand people stealing Christmas tree lights."