It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's also the time of year when outdoor Christmas decorations get nibbled by little critters.
North Ridgeville Police are reporting at least half a dozen people from five neighborhoods - Hazlewood Run, Sicily, Bainbridge, Ridgeview, and Meadow Lakes - have called about their Christmas lights being cut off.
However, whether it's the work of a real-life Grinch or naughty squirrels is unclear.
“I like when the neighborhood looks pretty, and you come home at night and all the lights are on,” said Allison Sheehan of North Ridgeville.
Unfortunately, her joy of Christmas was literally cut short. She said her lights were cut off not only this year, but also in 2015.
News 5 also reported numerous neighbors finding their Christmas lights cut off in Willoughby back in 2015.
Sgt. Dan Hirz with Willoughby Police told News 5 they were so determined to catch the supposed Grinch that they actually stationed an undercover cop overnight - only to find that the culprit was just a pesky squirrel.
Pandy's Garden Center in Elyria also believe animals are behind most of the mischief. The store has received more than a dozen calls so far this year.
“It seems like it goes through spurts. Many years will have nothing, and all of a sudden, we have a lot of people calling in asking, ‘Hey, what's going on?’” said J.R. Pandy, owner of Pandy’s Garden Center. “You think that it's vandals, but we've narrowed it down to the rotten, little chipmunk and the gray squirrels. They're just gnawing at it.”
Police in New Jersey had a similar case and even caught the little critter in the act on camera. They jokingly wrote on Facebook that the squirrel was charged with criminal mischief and released on bail.
Still, Sheehan remains convinced her wires were cut.
“I'd be surprised if it were like a squirrel or something like that,” she said. “I haven't seen a lot of squirrels in my yard in the area, so I’m leaning more towards Grinch.”
North Ridgeville Police said they are still looking into who is behind the damage. They suggest that residents get a surveillance camera if they think a vandal is cutting their Christmas lights.
If its squirrels causing the lights to go out, experts first talked about what NOT to do.
“There's a lot of old wives’ tales out there,” said Pandy. “I've heard everything from spraying with Listerine, but I think that just gives squirrels good breath! They've used soap in the past...”
Instead, Pandy said folks should purchase repellents, such as ‘Repels All’ or ‘Animal Stopper,’ which have spicy scents to keep the critters away.
“The combination of dried blood, egg whites, garlic, cinnamon,” he said. “It's a spray, and you spray around that area and that usually deters them 90% of the time.”