TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Police are searching for burglars who broke into the home of a young athlete while she was away in London competing in the Paralympic Games.
When Cheryl Leitner and her mother returned home from the Games, they found their house ransacked.
“It’s scary and it’s sad to know that anyone would do this,” Leitner told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu on Thursday.
Their rooms were torn apart and they said about $30,000 worth of jewelry and money was taken. Nothing but empty boxes were left from commemorative rings, watches and coins Leitner received at the Paralympic Games in China and Australia.
“She had Paralympic rings that kind of look like a college ring with Paralympics, her name in it, track and field. One’s white gold, one’s yellow gold,” said Leitner’s mother, Sandy Kipp.
“It’s things that I could pass down to my children and they could have and now they’re gone and I don’t know if I can get them back. I can’t replace them I would really really like them returned,” said Leitner, who suffered a spinal cord injury at birth.
What makes it even worse is Leitner and her mother think an acquaintance they allowed to stay at their home for a short time may be responsible.
Police said they’re trying to track that person and others down.
“They were staying at a nearby hotel, which they’re not staying at anymore, so at this point we’re still trying to find them. We’d like to speak to them. We’d like to try to figure out where the stuff is that was taken out,” said Det. Mark Bajada of the Toms River Police Department.
“It’s heartbreaking. It’s wrong to do it to anyone, but to do it to someone who works so hard for something and every day is a challenge,” Kipp said.
Leitner said she’s not going to let the crime slow her down in any way. She said she starts training next month for the World Championship Paralympic Games held in France next year.