Police: Teenager steals Christmas tree for sick grandmother

Posted at: 12/12/2012 5:16 PM
Updated at: 12/12/2012 5:35 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

HUDSON FALLS - Police say a teenager stole a Christmas tree to give to his sick grandmother only to find out that the tree had very special meaning to its owners.

The Ruffing family of Hudson Falls woke up to find their outdoor Christmas tree gone.

"I looked down and all I saw was the stump. I didn't see the lights, the tree, or anything else that was there," said Thomas Ruffing.

Tom Ruffing was stumped and angry.

He'd planted the spruce tree several years ago when his wife, Jennifer, who loves evergreens, was diagnosed with breast cancer. It grew as a symbol of hope as their cancer went into remission. They nurtured it so this year, it was big enough to be decorated.

“This was something that grew with us as she cured and it was just  part of our life  together," he said.

The Ruffings found out recently that Jennifer's cancer is back. The stolen tree added insult to injury. But it wasn't gone for long.

It didn't take long for the police to track down the tree or the kid who stole it.

When police went looking, the officer found it five houses down the street.

“He spoke to an elderly woman that lived at the residence. And she reported that her grandson set up the tree for her,” said Sgt. John Kibling

Colby Fuller is charged with misdemeanor petty larceny. Police say although his intentions were misguided, they were good.

“What he had told us is that his grandmother is ill and he wanted to do something nice for her so he went out looking for a Christmas tree. And he just happened to walk by one that was nicely decorated in somebody's front yard,” Kibling said.

The 17-year old told NewsChannel13 that he's sorry and wants to get the Ruffings a new tree.

But Tom Ruffing, who has served in the military for 22 years and wasn't home for Christmas last year, is not ready yet to hear the apology.

“I don't want to waste my time talking to the young man because I don't believe he deserves my time or my wife's,” he said.


It didn't take long for word of the theft to spread. Tom Ruffing says an anonymous good Samaritan left a wooden bear with a carved breast cancer symbol on his lawn, early Wednesday morning.

Police say they expect to charge another teen that helped Colby Fuller.