NEWBURGH, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Who would steal from children in need?
It’s a real Christmas crime – 60 gifts from a Salvation Army headquarters were swiped by a real-life Grinch.
The hard streets of this Hudson Valley City are a little harder this Christmas season after an unseasonable theft was pulled off on Friday evening.
“You think you’re stealing from us, but you’re really stealing from your neighbors, somebody who can really use the help,” Salvation Army Lt. Sheila Gage told CBS 2’s John Metaxas.
As sidewalk volunteers collected their kettles Monday, Lt. Rohan Gage tried to fathom what would make someone steal 60 gifts intended for young children from needy families. The thief made off with about a third of the total gifts the Salvation Army will make here this holiday.
“It really hurts when you try to help people in need. It takes away from a family that can’t provide for its children,” Rohan Gage said.
The gifts were piled up in the office at the Salvation Army headquarters in Newburgh. A receptionist was sitting in the office, but she had gotten up for a quick break. In that time somebody came in and took all of the gifts from the office.
“I came up front to get a gift for one of the kids. I thought the gift was on my desk. And there was nothing there,” Sheila Gage said.
One of the gifts was intended for Daryl Riley’s 8-year-old sister Danielle.
“They just told me. I was shocked. I was like are you serious?” the 13-year-old said.
Police were immediately called. They got the word out, issuing a press release asking citizens to donate replacement gifts.
“It was a heartfelt type of loss. We realized it from the beginning,” Newburgh Police Chief Michael Ferrara said.
“Right now we are scrambling, asking the people for help,” Sheila Gage said.
The Salvation Army said if the gifts are returned, it won’t ask any questions.
If you’d like to donate a gift for a needy child under the age of 13, you can bring it to the Salvation Army at 234 Van Ness St. in Newburgh.