Man accused of stealing Christmas wreaths, trying to sell them

CALEDONIA -- A Caledonia man is accused of playing Grinch a few weeks early. Police say he stole Christmas wreaths, and then tried to scam others into buying them.

Caledonia police say 35-year-old Israel Betancourt played Grinch this past Saturday, December 1st in the neighborhood of Haymeadow and Dunkelow Road.

A woman called police and said Betancourt was trying to sell Christmas wreaths. 

"He wanted to try to sell her a wreath and stated that the wreath was ordered from the Boy Scouts. However, she never ordered anything from the Boy Scouts," Caledonia Police Lt. Gary Larsen said.

That woman did not want to speak with FOX6 News on camera, but said she called the police because she was genuinely scared. She said she didn't understand why the man was knocking on her door. 

"She had a friend that had previously had an individual try to sell a wreath to her from the Boy Scouts, and she hadn't ordered one either," Lt. Larsen said.

Sensing it was the same person, the woman said she got the license plate and called police. Police tracked the vehicle to Betancourt, who denied the allegations. 

When officials searched the truck of Betancourt's car, they found a lot of green needles -- the kind you would find in a Christmas wreath. Police say Betancourt later confessed.

"He stated he was behind in the mortgage and that was the reason he was trying to get some extra cash.  However, during officers conversations with him, he lied about quite a few things, so we don't really know if that was true or not," Lt. Larsen said.

Betancourt is now charged with obstructing an officer. He is not charged with theft because the man who reported the wreaths stolen did not want to press charges.