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December 11. 2012 9:40PM

All eyes in Boscawen are watching lit tree

The Christmas spirit still burns in Boscawen, along with the passion of about 25 firefighters who just won't let would-be thieves darken the town Christmas tree.

On Monday, firefighters strung a third set of lights on an 18-foot spruce located at the split of Routes 3 and 4. Twice the previous week, a thief had ripped off, literally, a 50-foot string of lights from the bottom of the tree.

"We're not going to let this beat us," said Fire Chief Ray Fisher, whose department decided Monday to restring the lights and keep a watch on the tree. "Everybody was on the same page: Yeah, we want the lights. We hope whoever did this has had enough."

Fire Department fundraisers pay for the lights, and local firefighters volunteer to string them. This year the tree held four 50-foot strings of multi-colored lights. Fisher said a single string costs about $22; he said they are crystallized LED bulbs shaped like old-fashioned incandescent bulbs.

Fisher said he's had several offers to replace the bulbs. Some people brought in bulbs they no longer use. One was a match of the sets already on the tree.

Meanwhile, Boscawen police said not too many tips are coming in about the thefts, which took place overnight on Dec. 3 and Dec. 7. Sgt. Jason Killary said the investigation is proving difficult.

"These are Christmas lights and it's Christmas time," he said. "If someone all of a sudden puts up a new string of Christmas lights, that's not suspicious behavior."

He believes the first theft was either a prank or a crime of opportunity; the second theft followed a string of media coverage. That person was likely just being spiteful, he said.

Fisher said the tree has been damaged because the thief yanked off the lights, taking the ends of branches with them. On Monday, he decided against securing the lights with tie wraps for fear of more damage to the tree. Meanwhile, the members of the fire department remain vigilant.

"Everyone's keeping on guard," Fisher said. "We've talked about staking the place out, but you might sit there a long time."

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Mark Hayward may be reached at mhayward@unionleader.com.


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