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A Tacoma woman’s search for garden gnomes

There’s something about garden gnomes that makes them adorable to some, and swipe-able to others.

A 31-year-old graphic artist, who recently purchased her first home in Tacoma is trying to find the cute little figures someone stole from her front lawn.

“It took me two years of living with family, after my company went out of business during the economic downturn, to get stable again and save the money I needed to buy my home,” says Sarah Winger. “You can imagine the sense of pride I have. I never thought I’d be a homeowner.”

Winger picked up the keys to her new home on September 20 and was excited to move from Olympia to Tacoma where most of her family and friends live. She’d also be closer to her work as a graphic artist. Her “whole life centers” around Tacoma, she says.

3gnomesThe home came with gnomes.

Gnomes are small human-like creatures, usually wearing a pointy hat. They were produced as decoration but also as a “protection from evil sorcery.”

The figurines originated in 19th century Germany, where they became known as Gartenzwerg – which literally means “garden dwarf.” The English were the first to call them gnomes in the 1930s.

“It was love at first sight. I was so bonkers for these gnomes that my realtor began to tease me, asking if I really liked the house or if I was just buying it for the gnomes,” Winger says.

“I even started calling my house the ‘gnome home.’ I planned to give them a fresh coat of paint, fun names, and had even thought about expanding the gnome family.”

A gnome is gone.

When she moved into the house in the Wapato neighborhood of South Tacoma at the beginning of this month, her “lady gnome” was gone.

Then, the same night someone allegedly took Justin Bieber’s computer from the Tacoma Dome venue where he was performing, the rest of her “gnomies” were taken from her front lawn.

“I feel disheartened with my neighborhood and this city that I couldn’t wait to move back to. I know they’re just gnomes, but it’s still stealing,” says Winger.

Winger started a social media effort to find the gnomes. That’s how I became aware of her issue, which she admits is far from the biggest problem in the world. Still, it’s theft.

So far in talking about her lost gnomes, Winger has had people point out that gnomes are commonly stolen and a few people have said, “What do you expect? It’s Tacoma.”

“That makes me sad as well. How can we just say ‘It’s Tacoma’ and brush off when things like this happen?” Winger asks. “I miss the little guys. I’ll be okay if they never do make it home, but if they do they will be relocated to the back yard.”

By LINDA THOMAS, I don’t care if Justin Bieber ever gets his laptop back. I would like to see Sarah reunited with her gnomes.

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