Sheriffs save Sylvia’s Santa, catch holiday grinch

Published 1:48 am Thursday, December 15, 2022

Deputies from Montgomery and Crenshaw County Sheriff’s offices partnered in a joint effort Nov. 28 to recover stolen items and capture the woman accused of taking Christmas decorations from Sylvia’s Produce in Lapine.

Officers apprehended Dakiesha Oliver with the stolen items in nearby Helicon, after officers from both departments cooperated to investigate the string of robberies beginning on Nov. 25 and carried out over the next three days.

“I dispatched one of my deputies up there to look for clues,” said Crenshaw County Sheriff Terry Mears. “Later, he was riding by one of the houses and spotted one of the stolen items outside. We notified Montgomery County. We assisted them in getting a search warrant on the residence, where we had an eviction notice to serve as well.”

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Sylvia Askew opened the store, which sits just inside the Montgomery County line, at 6 a.m. on Nov. 26 and discovered thieves had taken all the outside Christmas trees, a Christmas village, a large inflatable snowman, construction cones, hammers, and five cans of spray paint the preceding evening.

According to Askew, more items disappeared that evening.

“She came back and took my folding chairs and the presents I had under a tree,” Askew said. “On Sunday night she came back and took my gingerbread house.”

After Sylvia posted about the robbery on social media, friends and neighbors offered their sympathy and donated items to contribute to the store’s display.

On Sunday, Sylvia and her husband, Harvey, found Oliver rummaging through the totes outside the store and attempted to deter her from fleeing, but according to Sylva, the accused struck Harvey with the door of her vehicle and fled the scene.

Mears said after deputies noticed the stolen items outside Oliver’s home, they served the eviction notice and discovered the rest of the decorations inside the residence.

“My chief deputy Daniel Jones served the eviction notice late in the evening,” Mears said. “As soon as [Oliver] opened the door, there was all the other stuff that was stolen, all in one place.”

Crenshaw deputies alerted the Montgomery Sheriff’s Office, who executed a search warrant to recover the items.

Sylvia’s displays elaborate decorations each year for the community to enjoy and hosts events like trick-or-treating and pictures with Santa.

“I just like doing it for the kids,” Sylvia said. “We had over 300 kids come for Halloween this year.”

With all the decorations restored, Sylvia’s will host pictures with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and the Grinch on Saturday and Sunday from 2-5 p.m.