BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Monday, 29 December, 2003, 11:06 GMT
French garden gnomes need homes

Caroline Wyatt
BBC News, Paris

garden gnome
Some of these tiny garden ornaments have been 'hanged'
French police are trying to find homes for over 80 garden gnomes kidnapped in eastern France earlier this year.

The tiny, bearded ornaments were taken by the self-styled Gnome Liberation Front from homes in the town of Saint-Die-des-Vosges.

They resurfaced lined up on the steps of the local church one Sunday morning.

Police have never caught the culprits, but the gnomes' owners seem strangely reluctant to come forward to claim their stolen property.

Notorious gang

It could be a dark and lonely festive season for the victims of a French kidnapping ring - the notorious Gnome Liberation Front.

In one of the strangest cases ever, officers in Saint-Die-des-Vosges have been unable to capture the thieves who brutally seized more than 80 garden gnomes from their rightful owners.

When you read these words, we will no longer be part of your selfish world in which we serve only a decoration
'Hanged' gnome note

The gang is well known in France.

Since 1997, its members have kidnapped more than 6,000 gnomes - or liberated them, as they see it, from private gardens.

What happens to them next is a mystery in most cases, although 11 gnomes were found subsequently hanged under a bridge.

The hanged gnomes had an accompanying note bearing a poignant message: "When you read these words, we will no longer be part of your selfish world in which we serve only a decoration."

Still homeless

In the Saint-Die-des-Vosges mass theft, the case so nearly had a happy ending.

The gnomes were discovered one Sunday morning by a priest arranged as if they were waiting to go to Mass.

Police had hoped the re-liberated gnomes could be returned to their rightful owners.

Yet so far, only a handful of gnome owners have turned up to collect their missing property.

The other gnomes remain locked in their dusty police cupboard until they are claimed.

So this year, the plea from Saint-Die-Des-Vosges police is: Please find a home for a gnome this Christmas and New Year.

Garden gnomes set free in France
13 Jul 01  |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific