Although break-ins and thefts occur all year round, these activities become particularly heinous when they involve the theft of Christmas presents, many destined for children.
On Thursday, thieves broke into a home in Ottawa, Ontario. Besides stealing the family car and electronic appliances, the bad guys made off with all the presents underneath the family's tree.
The family had been planning a large Christmas Day gathering for relatives including the couple's three children and 10 grandchildren. Some of the relatives who were to attend had already dropped off presents to be put under the tree. All the presents were gone.
The Ottawa Police Service, under fire recently for use of excessive force, came to the rescue. They took up a collection and spent part of the day Saturday wrapping presents. Yesterday afternoon, officers went to the home with 20 wrapped gifts and $600 in cash.
Police spokeswoman, Helen Harper, was quoted in the Montreal Gazette as saying, "We wanted to make sure they didn't miss Christmas." Harper added, "the family was in tears and very grateful" when officers showed up with the presents and cash.
No arrests have yet been made.
A week ago, a woman walked into Hungry Howie's pizza restaurant in Polk City, Florida. Hungry Howie's had been collecting toys to give to needy children for Christmas. In front of employees, the woman walked out of the store with approximately $500 worth of toys. The theft was captured by the establishment's surveillance cameras.
Yesterday, the Polk County Sheriff's Office announced they had charged Amanda Akins, 27, of Winter Haven, with the crime. She was already in custody after being arrested the day before on a warrant for another theft.
According to the Sheriff's Office, Akins confessed and told police the toys were at a friend's place. Police went to the home and recovered some, but not all, of the stolen merchandise.
After the arrest, Sheriff Grady Judd said, And we here at PCSO also got our Christmas wish - that the suspect responsible for doing this will be eating processed turkey on Christmas Day in the Polk County Jail.
More and more people are doing their Christmas shopping online now and this provides another opportunity for enterprising criminals. These people follow delivery trucks and then take gifts and other parcels that are left on porches when the occupants are not at home.
According to the Boston Globe, these types of crimes are on the increase in Massachusetts. Two people were arrested after cramming their car with packages alleged to have been stolen in this manner. And when the couple's home was searched, police recovered more goods believed to be stolen presents and parcels.
In another case, three people were arrested and arraigned on larceny charges. The three consisted of a father, daughter, and a part time UPS worker.
And according to the Associated Press, shoplifting during the four weeks before Christmas is on the rise in the United States. It is estimated that the value of goods taken from stores amounts to $1.84 billion. This is an increase of 6% over the same period last year.
At least there is some good news when presents are either recovered, or replaced by others who want to help the victims have a Merry Christmas.