Residents of a subsidized apartment building in Moncton who pooled their funds to bring some Christmas cheer to their courtyard are now hoping police can find the late-night Grinch that snatched the lights right off their tree.

Tenants of Tannery Court — many of them seniors and people with disabilities — pitched in to buy approximately 300 lights that lit up the small pine tree in the building's rear courtyard.

Resident J.J. Soufflet, who does some of the building's maintenance, said he got up around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday and noticed the lights on the tree weren't shining.

"I just thought the fuse went out, came out and the lights were all gone, disappeared," said Soufflet. 

But surveillance tape revealed the truth. A hooded person can be seen entering the courtyard, unplugging the lights, then yanking the strings of lights off the tree. 

Security footage

A dark hooded figure is caught on security camera footage entering the courtyard on Tuesday morning. The thief unplugged, then pulled the lights off the tree, breaking branches in the process. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Soufflet called the RCMP immediately and plans to hand the recording over to the police.

He said many of the residents of the building have limited mobility, and the view of the Christmas lights meant something to them.

"Most of them are pretty sad," he said. "We all pitched in $5 and now we have no lights."

It's not the first time this holiday season that decorations have been stolen from Moncton properties. In the other cases, light projectors were taken from neighbouring lawns.

J.J. Soufflet

One strand of lights was found caught in a nearby tree. Soufflet strung them back in the tree, but the lights were broken and wouldn't work. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Simonne Hickey has lived in the building for nearly 12 years. She helped organize the effort to buy the lights, a first-time effort for the residents.

 "We're really disappointed," she said. "We just thought it'd be something different, so everybody can see it."

Hickey said many residents may not have a lot of spare spending cash, but they take pride in their building. She credits Soufflet with keeping the premises clean and well-cared for. He planted the pine tree himself, and was dismayed to find some of the branches broken during the heist.

Lights stolen from subsidized housing residents' Christmas tree0:40

"It was about five inches high and I planted it 12 years ago for the seniors and for this building," he said.

To lighten the mood Hickey joked, "It's a wonder they didn't saw it down, I'm surprised, to take it home with the lights on."

But the humour drained from her voice when asked what she wants to tell the thief. 

"You don't have the right to go on other people's property and take what's not yours."

Soufflet said he won't ask residents for more money to replace their lights, as many are on fixed incomes, but he hopes he can find a way to replace the little bit of Christmas cheer stolen from the backyard.