CHRISTMAS GRINCH: Children's presents stolen from under the tree

EDITORIAL: Grinch must be caught

TWO Wodonga families have been left “heartbroken” and “disgusted” after thousands of dollars worth of Christmas presents were stolen from under their trees on Christmas morning.

The thief followed Santa’s footsteps, breaking into the homes in Wilca Way and Hartwig Road, ahead of what should have been happy Christmas mornings for the families.

Grandparents Claire and Glenn Roennfeldt woke up yesterday to find they had been the victims of the “despicable” crime, between 1am and 6am.

“It’s a bad enough crime at any time but let alone Christmas,” Mr Roennfeldt said.

“It’s devastating and such an invasion of privacy.”

Wodonga Detective Sgt Graeme Simpfendorfer said the break-ins were the lowest acts he had seen in 20 years of policing.

“Not only have the individuals stolen items, they have taken away the spirit of Christmas,” he said.

Dubbing the thief Wodonga’s own Grinch, Sgt Simpfendorfer said he could not reveal how they had gained entry to the homes.

“It was definitely not through the chimney.”

Another victim — mother of two Bronwyn, who did not wish to disclose her surname — said her family had pulled down the Christmas tree and decorations yesterday when they discovered they would not be celebrating Christmas this year.

“I have a 12-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter and they ran to the lounge room and saw there were no Santa sacks or presents,” she said.

“The kids were devastated and bewildered and were crying and really distressed.

“When it dawned on them someone came into the house while they were sleeping, they were really upset and my husband and I just thought of all the lovely things they could have had.”

Bronwyn said she and her husband had spent the year putting money away fortnightly so they could afford wonderful gifts for their children.

However, not all was lost — Border individuals and service organisations last night came to the aid of the families by donating their own gifts.

“We are so grateful to everybody who has given us presents,” Bronwyn said.

Wodonga Sen-Sgt Kate Chamberlain said the crime could not have been any worse “even if they rolled Santa himself while he was trying to deliver gifts”.

“The look on the children’s faces was heartbreaking,” she said.

Police are appealing for help and anyone with information should phone (02) 6049 2600 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au.

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