THE Christmas grinch thefts were the brainchild of a mother who had no gifts for her children, Wodonga police say.
The woman took her 14-year-old son along with her when the brazen robberies took place in the early hours of Christmas morning, they claim.
Wodonga police Detective Sen-Constable Justin Foots said the mother, 47, drove the vehicle, while her son and James Lawrence Strauss, 18, broke into the Hartwig Road and Wilca Way homes.
Presents valued at almost $9000 were stolen from under the Christmas trees.
Police revealed yesterday a third house in Wodonga was also broken into while its occupants slept but no presents were taken.
Police allege the mother’s former partner lived in the home and they were unaware they had been victims of a break-in until contacted by police recently.
Strauss was sentenced to 12 months detention in a youth justice centre on Tuesday in Wodonga Magistrates Court.
The Springdale Heights mother was arrested at her house after 2pm on Wednesday and her son three hours later at his grandmother’s house.
The pair were charged with three counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of theft.
“We are alleging they stole the presents because the mum hadn’t bought any for Christmas Day,” he said.
“The mother had no presents for the kids, so said ‘Come on kids, let’s go steal some’.
“It’s a concern a mother has involved her 14-year-old son in this offence.”
The court was told Strauss, who is not related to the woman, stole to fuel a drug habit.
Sen-Constable Foots said they were aware of more offenders being involved in the case, but only recently obtained the necessary evidence for the arrests.
“It’s a classic case where you think you’ve got away with it but months later we’ll come knocking at your door,” he said
The mother will appear in the Wodonga Magistrates Court on March 25.
Her son has been bailed to appear in a Victorian Children’s Court.