So from the bag of “WTF News” that Argentina has for us every week, comes quite the gem this time around. No, we’re not talking about the now infamous Stairgate featuring the King and Queen of Spain at Aeroparque. We’re talking about the gnome burglar terrorizing Río Negro (or burglars, because this is a crime that is still unsolved to this day).
That’s right, on top of having to deal with inflation, spiking utility prices, and the overall day-to-day chaos surrounding the upcoming elections, there are seven families having to deal with the loss of a loved one. Even if that loved one is made of clay. FYI: Since Cipolletti is just across the river from the province of Neuquén, for the purposes of this article, I will continue to refer to the area as Gneuquén because it somehow works. Hope you agree.
This bizarre crime spree has taken place in the city of Cipolletti during the last month, specifically in the barrio of San Pablo (three gnomes), Flamingo (one gnome), Pichi Nahuel (one gnome) and Brentana (two gnomes). There are several insane things about this story, so let me try and unwrap some of them.
First of all, there is the fact the some of these robberies included hopping of two meter fences and actually using tools to carry it out. So it’s not like these guys were just walking by and decided to do this just because. To use a phrase commonly used in heist films just after the big sting takes place: these guys are pros. Also, after all that effort, they didn’t bother stealing anything else, not jewelry, not money, nothing… What gives?
According to several neighbors that have actually gone as far as calling these burglars “a mafia,” suspicion is that the gnomes are being stolen, then repainted and then sold on the black market. Which brings to light another wrinkle in this clusterfuck: there is a garden gnome black market? This seems like something taken out of a David Lynch film. As you may have figured out, this is actually raising some discontent between the legal sellers of garden gnomes in the area, who claim to acquire the little guys fair and square, without any funny business (other than the funny, almost hilarious, business of a garden gnome black market).
Which brings us to the main issue in this story: what is it about this province and garden gnomes exactly? I mean, they’re cute and all, but this was a novelty item way back in the day and I’m pretty sure they don’t really warrant this kind of attention. Nevertheless, I must confess I’m invested in this and I can envision myself checking the status of this every week from now on until somebody catches these bastards. The people of Gneuquén deserve better. We leave you with scenes from the only movie to ever give garden gnomes their due: Amelie.