Screengrab from KOB video
A Salvation Army volunteer helping buy holiday gifts for children took off in the organization’s van containing $6,000 in presents, New Mexico police said.
A Salvation Army employee and volunteers were purchasing gifts intended for children in the “Angel Tree” program at a Walmart in Farmington on the night of Tuesday, Dec. 14, a police news release said.
A volunteer who helped buy gifts and load them into the organization’s white 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan drove away in the van at 7:21 p.m. before the others finished, police said.
The van and gifts have not been recovered.
“It is a pretty Grinch-like thing to do,” Nicole Brown, public information officer for the Farmington Police Department, told the Farmington Daily Times.
The stolen gifts, valued at $6,000, were to be handed out to more than 350 children on Monday, Dec. 20, KOB reported.
“So all it took was one terrible person to see that and take advantage of it apparently,” Lt. Christopher Rockwell with the Salvation Army Farmington Corps told the station. He said donations to replace some of the stolen toys have already poured in.
Farmington, which has a population of more than 45,000, is in northwest New Mexico near the Colorado, Utah and Arizona borders.
Police ask anyone who may have information on the stolen van to call the dispatch center at 505-334-6622 about case number 21-68289.
Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.