Maryland dad Nelson Robin built the large, computerized menorah that he displays in his front yard with his daughter, then seven.
The display symbolizes Robin's faith -- but, for Robin, a computer engineer -- it was also a good way to introduce his young daughter to computer algorithms, which control its flashing lights.
Which makes the menorah's odd disappearances particularly troubling and confusing.
Tuesday, the display was stolen from Robin's yard. It was then trashed in a neighbor's yard, along with a nativity display that had also been stolen.
Before Robin could retrieve it, the menorah disappeared again. It reappeared Thursday -- but this time in pieces, and accompanied by a note of apology and some cash.
"I don't know what to make of it," Robin said. "I don't know whether it's just a prank, whether it's religiously motivated -- I just don't know."
Neighbors near his Germantown home said they've had trouble with vandals taking or damaging Christmas lights.
Montgomery County Police are investigating. Robin would like to know who damaged the menorah, and have that person held responsible.
But, whatever happens, Robin said he will rebuild his display. "I will definitely rebuild it," he said.