Crime & Justice

How one 5-year-old made sure the Grinch didn't steal Christmas

Officer Lauren Develle with TyLon Pittman and the Grinch, who did not steak Christmas.
Officer Lauren Develle with TyLon Pittman and the Grinch, who did not steak Christmas.
Courtesy of Kim Smith

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Police in Byram, Miss. got a hot tip on a heist last week when 5-year-old TyLon Pittman called 911.

"I'm just trying to tell you something. Um, watch for the Grinch, 'cause the Grinch gonna steal Christmas, OK?" TyLon told the officer who called him back.

Yes, that's right. TyLon was trying to turn in the Grinch.

He'd been watching doctored YouTube videos of the classic Christmas tale, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and was getting pretty worried about it when Officer Lauren Develle heard about TyLon's call.

"He actually thought the Grinch was going to come and steal everybody's Christmas," Develle says.

Develle decided to visit TyLon at his house and assure him that the police had the situation well in hand.

"He really kind of just needed that reassurance from someone that Grinch could not do that this year — he's not getting away with anything," she says.

Develle asked TyLon what should happen if the Grinch did show up. He told her that they should pick him up and put him in jail.

So the next night, TyLon got to do that himself. After checking with Byram Police Chief Luke Thompson, Develle set up the arrest, with a friend dressed in costume as the mean, "charming as an eel" monster.

"He got in the back of my car as the Grinch and let me get TyLon and bring him into the station for booking," Develle says.

TyLon wants to be a police officer himself on day, and that night, he left the station with an armful of gifts from the officers at the Byram Police Department, including a little toy police car.

But the most important gift came from Develle: A copy of the book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss, to set the record straight about the story.

"It's all about the Christmas joy — bringing the joy of Christmas to a mean Grinch's heart," Develle says. "And I just wanted to make sure that TyLon knew that as well — that the Grinch was really capable of loving Christmas as well."

Sarah Handel and Barrie Hardymon produced and edited this piece for broadcast. Wynne Davis produced it for digital.

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