The history group behind Mountain View's landmark Rengstorff House was dealt a severe blow this week after someone stole a trailer loaded with custom Halloween decorations.
The Friends of "R" House reported they lost about $10,000 in items that were loaded in a trailer parked at the driveway of a member's home in Belmont. Sometime between noon at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, someone apparently hitched the trailer to a vehicle and drove off, said Jennifer Roger, the group's executive director.
While there were some throwaway items stocked in the trailer, Roger said the real loss was a variety of irreplaceable replicas designed by the group's members over the last 20 years. These curiosities include a Victorian-era steam man (a human-like robot that puffs steam from his hat) and a Daniell cell, an early 19th-century battery. The trailer also held various decorations including animatronic parts, visual projectors and special effects equipment.
"It sounds ridiculous to say we lost our Halloween decorations people think we're talking about inflatable pumpkins or foam tombstones," Roger said. "But we can't buy a majority of these decorations. They're custom-made by our members or donated."
Many Mountain View residents will recognize those decorations from Rengstorff House's annual Halloween haunted house. The haunted house typically raises about $2,000, which helps pay for the nonprofit's living-history events and art festival.
Roger was confident the group would persevere despite the setback.
"We'll weather this blow and have our events just as planned," she said. "We're not going to let the Rengstorff House down. We'll figure it out; we always do."
Roger said no suspect in the theft has yet been identified. Whoever committed the crime apparently cut the trailer's lock before hitching it to a vehicle and driving off.
The trailer was parked in front of residence along Harbor Boulevard in Belmont.
The trailer is a white 2003 Pace American model with a license plate 4AK8870, Roger said. Officers from the Belmont Police Department took a report and are investigating the theft, she said. Roger urged anyone with information about the crime to call the Belmont Police at 650-595-7400.