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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Happy Ending in the Case of the Pilfered Great Pumpkin

SPEARFISH, S.D. - A South Dakota grower whose giant 100-pound pumpkin was stolen out of his yard two weeks ago got it back again this past week.

Matt Murraine's neighbor told him a pumpkin that appeared to be the one that was stolen was seen on another porch in town.

Murraine said the stolen pumpkin was easy to identify because it "has a distinctive scar from being hit by a lawnmower earlier in the year."

At first, he was nervous about retrieving the pumpkin. "I thought I would be confronting the person that stole it," he said. "I asked myself, 'How am I gonna handle this?' But I told them, 'I don't care if you want to keep it, but that's my pumpkin, I was planning to pass it on to some kids, and I'd like the favor returned.'"

The new owner handed the pumpkin back without any fuss. He said his cousin had found it in a nearby gulch.

Murraine thinks the thieves dumped the pumpkin after his story attracted so much attention. "They probably thought, 'oh, maybe this is a bad idea,'" he said.

The top of the pumpkin was scarred where someone had unsuccessfully started carving it. "I don't think they realized that the skin on those pumpkins is so thick," Murraine said.

Murraine gave the pumpkin to a friend from his men's Bible study group to carve with his four kids. The group was barbecuing together the night the pumpkin returned.

Although the pumpkin had initially been reserved for the family of Murraine's pastor, another pumpkin grower donated two pumpkins twice the size of the stolen one. "So I already had one lined up for our pastor's kids," Murraine said.

He's expecting more pumpkins to be donated to kids as the season winds down. Reflecting on the fiasco, he said, "It's been a blessing in disguise, really."

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