By the time William deBruler replaced the Christmas lights on his driveway a second time, he was sure they’d been vandalized.
“Do you believe someone’s cut our Christmas lights?” he told his wife at their home in Ashton Plantation in Luling. “This isn’t funny anymore. Someone is cutting our lights.”
The culprit came as a shock to the deBrulers, as well as St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s deputies who were called to the scene as they became more anxious about the situation.
“Sometimes, things aren’t what they seem to be,” deBruler said.
There, in footage from surveillance infrared cameras loaned to them, was a large rabbit caught in the act of chewing through the strands of lights lining their driveway. As the lights went dark and fell to the ground, the rabbit casually hopped past them on his merry way along what deBruler said appeared to be his path across the yard.
“Not we or the sheriff’s deputy thought it was an animal because the cuts were so sharp and clean, and cut at an angle resembling a cut by scissors,” deBruler said.
Not once in the time they had moved into their newly-built home a year ago had they seen a rabbit or even a squirrel, he said.
But, overall, deBruler mused, “You never know. It was a pretty good mystery for a week or so.”
Until the video, the mystery had grown large and worrisome in their minds since they first put up the lights a week ago.
The lights were only 10 feet from their front door, which meant a vandal might be coming that close to their house. They also worried it might be someone they knew doing this, and the anxiety grew even more as the lights were cut a third and then fourth time.
“It seemed like something personal,” deBruler said.
Last Wednesday, it started when the lights were scheduled to turn on and only half of them lit up. He noticed right away that it appeared they had been cut and initially thought it was kids, but he also considered it odd they were cut in the same spot every time.
“Sometimes, things aren’t what they seem to be.” – William deBruler
They posted it on an Ashton Plantation Facebook page. It got attention and people even offered to hide in their bushes to identify the vandals.
By that Sunday, a friend loaned them the security cameras, which were strategically placed in poinsettia plants nearby outside. When it came time to see the footage on Tuesday, deBruler compared it to a “viewing party,” because there were so many people there to see it.
There in black-and-white infrared, the culprit caught in action clipping the lights was a large rabbit.
“He was cutting the lights at the exact same place,” deBruler said. “It was like we were blocking his path.”
When he posted the results of the investigation on Facebook, a neighbor commented it was “their rabbit” or least one they’d seen earlier in the neighborhood.
Now nicknamed “The Ashton rabbit,” deBruler said he hopes he’s reached a truce with the critter, although he admits to contemplating it “going to the Christmas gumbo.”
Where once the lights stood on 10-inch stakes, he’s lowered them in hopes the rabbit won’t have to chew through them anymore to get by.
“I think we’ve come to an understanding,” deBruler said. “We’re kind of at a truce right now, but if he cuts through them again we’ll have an issue.”