Newark Family Gets Help from Police, Firefighters After Gifts Stolen from Under Tree

Police working the day shift help raise $200 to give family members

By Sam Brock
|  Thursday, Dec 26, 2013  |  Updated 6:11 PM PDT
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Newark police are seeking leads in the Christmas Eve theft of presents from a home in Newark discovered by two children Wednesday morning after they woke to see what was under the Christmas tree, police said. Sam Brock reports.

Newark police are seeking leads in the Christmas Eve theft of presents from a home in Newark discovered by two children Wednesday morning after they woke to see what was under the Christmas tree, police said. Sam Brock reports.

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An East Bay community has come together to rescue Christmas for a family after a Christmas Eve robbery.

Spurned by the less charitable spirit of the holidays, a Newark family awoke Christmas morning to find their tree bereft of presents.

Gone, too, was a home computer, a PlayStation console and what police are estimating to be about $3,000 worth of valuables.

"It's just worse to see a child suffering from something, more than if you are suffering from something," said Armida Torres, whose children awoke to an empty living room.

Torres moved to Newark only a couple months ago.

Unfortunately, she hadn't discovered that a corner, floor-level window in her living room was never locked. The window served as a portal for thieves, who grabbed the holiday presents and electronics and went right back out.

"We had a couple of burglaries that happened during the night time [on Christmas Eve], Newark Police Officer Ethan Katz said. "I think people are taking advantage of the fact that the homes are going to have presents."

Fortunately for Torres and her family, the department and Newark community stepped in to try and right the wrong. The police officers responding to the crime raised $100, matched by the Police Association.

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The Alameda Fire Department, in turn, scooped up presents from its holiday drive and collected some more. Business and private citizens offered gift cards, toys and other contributions, and pretty soon a whole community was mobilized.

Officers presented the dozens of presents to the family at the Newark police station Thursday.

Firemen from Alameda took the kids into the truck and brought them back home, providing a memorable experience.

Torres is thankful for the gifts, but even more grateful for the effort.

"I can only tell them thank you," she said. "It brought the smiles back on my kids' faces, and that's the best gift I could ask for."

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