For Martha Horne, the rotund faces and pointy red hats of her cherished garden gnomes always brought a smile.

The Leduc grandmother was heartbroken when, one stormy night last week, three of the plump dwarves were stolen from her front lawn.

"They had funny faces, like old timers' faces, you would say and I had repainted them all," said Horne, 88.  "I got them as gifts from my grandchildren so I really treasured them. They were very special to me.

"In my own mind, in my own heart, I hope I can get them back."

'I was very upset'

Last Wednesday, the howling wind of a battering rainstorm pulled the drain pipe off her gutter during the night.

When the storm finally died down the morning, she went out to right the pipe and tidy up her well-groomed gardens, when she realized her favourite figurines were missing from her Linsford home.

"I thought, Oh God where are my gnomes?" Horne said.  "I looked a couple of times. I thought, am I not seeing right? But there was just one gnome left.

"I was very upset."

Three gnomes, each with a pointed red hat, and grinning faces were taken from the flowers beds which adorn her front yard.

RCMP searched for missing gnomes

Horne called the RCMP. An officer was dispatched to her home and spent some time patrolling the neighbourhood streets in search of any errant gnomes — thinking the thieves may have ditched the dwarves in a nearby property "just to be miserable."

But the tiny men were nowhere to be seen.

Horne suspects there is more than one person responsible for the theft. Each gnomes was a hefty 4.5 kilograms each, and she can't fathom how one thief could have made off with all of them.

She has been collecting the ornaments for years and has more than 15 standing guard on her property.

'Please return them to me'

In the meantime, Horne has taken the dozen remaining gnomes into her house for safekeeping.

Horne hopes those responsible return her beloved little men to their rightful place among her petunias.

"The ones I bought for myself they're not so bad, but the ones that I got as a gifts they were real treasures to me. I'm really, really heartbroken that they're gone.

"Please bring my gnomes back," she said. "I don't care who you are but please return them to me."

With files from Tanara Mclean