- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 21, 2002

Tysons Corner Center officials said an anonymous phone call yesterday led to the recovery of their stolen inflatable reindeer.
Ivy the reindeer, which stands 19 feet long and 12 feet high, was undamaged, deflated and bound in rope when the facility's chief engineer and a colleague found it behind a nearby building after the call came to the mall's public safety office shortly after 6 a.m., said Kathy Hannon, general manager of Tysons Corner Center.
"It's a little more difficult to get up than it is to get it down," Ms. Hannon said. "To take it down you need to deflate it."
She said six laborers returned the balloon to the top of the Route 7 marquee at about noon yesterday, about 36 hours after it was noticed missing. Ms. Hannon had the honor of plugging in the fan that would keep it inflated.
Not everyone was happy about the latest development in the case of the missing Christmas decoration: Fairfax County Police Officer William Walker said Tysons Corner Center officials should have checked with police before retrieving Ivy.
"We don't have a crime scene and obviously the evidence has been tainted by Tysons Corner. We would have dusted for prints, but obviously we can't do that now," he said.
The shopping center's chief engineer noticed early Tuesday morning that the reindeer was missing. Someone also tried to steal Ivy's twin, Irving. The ropes restraining the decoration atop the center's Route 123 entrance were cut. The inflatable reindeer are valued at $15,000 apiece.
After widespread media coverage, someone called the public safety office to recommend looking on the grounds of a building down the street, said mall spokeswoman Kristina Kromulis.
Neither Ms. Kromulis nor Ms. Hannon said they knew the sex of the anonymous caller.
Asked if the reindeer's disappearance was a publicity stunt for the shopping center, Ms. Hannon replied: "Of course not.
"We're very pleased, and we're not going to pursue it any further," she said. "The mall's initial statement was that we weren't going to press charges any further."
Fairfax County Police said they do not suspect mall officials in the theft, Officer Walker said.
But he said mall officials were not cooperative with an officer sent to complete a supplemental report. They would not tell the officer where and under what conditions the reindeer was recovered.
"The case is still open. A crime has been committed," Officer Walker said. "We have no suspect information at this time. They said from the outset they had no desire to prosecute. I think they're not interested in pursuing the case."


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