About one year ago, a lawn gnome mysteriously vanished from Oak Parker Erika Baldonado’s front yard, despite it being chained down. She figured the small, bearded decoration was gone forever. But just recently, the gnome reappeared on her front step, complete with a note explaining its whereabouts.

“Dear friend,” the hand-scribbled letter reads. “You may think you own me, but you are mistaken. I don’t appreciate the chain you had around me, so I decided to take a vacation. I hope you didn’t miss me too much, but here are some photos to show you how much fun I had with my freedom. Regards, Gnome.”

Stapled to the note are several printed out pictures of the gnome on vacation -standing on the beach, wearing sunglasses while reclining on a towel, or perched near a waterfall.

Baldonado, 42, says she is clueless as to who could have borrowed the gnome and taken it for a holiday. She accused several of her neighbors on the 1000 block of South Clinton, but none of them had any idea what she was talking about.

She and her husband had a hearty laugh after discovering the gnome in late March. But their 6-year-old daughter, Maya, didn’t think it was funny, and stowed the lawn gnome in her bedroom to keep it safe.

“She didn’t understand that someone was just joking around,” Baldonado said with a chuckle.

Their family went on vacation from March 25 to April 5 this year and returned to find their other lawn gnome missing. She believes it might have been pranksters from the high school. A few years ago, a neighbor’s animal-shaped lawn ornaments were mysteriously rearranged into sexually suggestive positions.

Baldonado considered calling the police after the first theft but changed her mind.

“I’m sure they’ve got better things to do than find out when a gnome was returned,” she said.

The art of stealing gnomes for pranks, coined as “gnoming,” is not exclusive to Baldonado’s family. Vacationing lawn gnomes have appeared in several movies, including 2001’s Amélie. The idea was also featured in commercials for the travel agency Travelocity.

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