He Stole Our Christmas

Mom-of-two Sam Redman was devastated to find her house had been burgled and all the kids’ presents were gone

Two years ago, I was due to give birth a few weeks before Christmas, so for once I was organised and bought all of the presents in August. It felt funny doing it so early, but I was grateful in the weeks after Oliver’s birth that I could just settle in and not have to rush around. The iPad and Nintendo DS my sevenyear-old son Leon desperately wanted were all wrapped and hidden in Oliver’s wardrobe, along with new clothes I’d bought for him.

He Stole Our Christmas Photo Gallery

By November, our Christmas tree was up in the living room with the rest of the family’s presents all beautifully wrapped underneath it. The only presents left to buy were the ones that Leon wanted to get for his grannies and his little brother. He had been saving up for months, and two weeks before Christmas we headed to the shops for one last shopping trip. All locked up It was a Saturday, but my partner, Neil, had left the house early as he’d volunteered to do extra shifts at work to help bring in a bit of extra cash. So, when Leon and I left the flat at 11 am, we locked everything up and set off.

A few hours later, we returned with bags full of chocolate for Leon’s grannies and a teddy rattle for Oliver. Leon was so pleased with himself. But as we walked into our flat, I noticed through my open bedroom door that my duvet was on the floor. I knew that I’d made the bed that morning; it seemed odd, but I assumed Neil had come home early from work and I rushed in to see him. Instead of being met by my husband, I was greeted with chaos – the drawers had been pulled out and there was stuff everywhere; even my make-up bag had been emptied. I checked round the rest of the flat and found that Oliver’s room had been raided as well – the wardrobe had been knocked over and all the gifts I’d hidden inside were gone. In the living room the presents under the tree were all missing, too.

I couldn’t believe it, I burst into tears and Leon soon realised what had happened and he started screaming, too. I phoned the police, then called Neil to tell him what had happened. His work was an hour away, so my gran and granddad came over to sit with us while we waited for the police. Leon was convinced that there was someone in the flat and he wouldn’t leave my side, so I took him to each room to prove we were alone. When the police arrived, they made a list of everything that was missing and looked around for signs of entry. The weirdest thing was that the front door had been locked, as I’d had to unlock it to get in, yet there were no signs of a break-in – we couldn’t work out how the burglars had got in. To this day, there is still no explanation. The police insisted I must have left the door open and even tried to say that as a new mom I must have been confused – but I knew I was right, plus Leon had remembered me locking the door. We waited for the police to come sweep for fingerprints, but they still didn’t find anything. Watching and waiting After the police left, Neil and I tidied the place up. It was then that it sunk in that we had no home insurance – it sounds silly, but it’s something that we never realised we would need.

But now everything was gone and we had no savings to replace any of it. We were devastated. I was so scared to sleep that night that we left all the lights on in the flat. Leon was terrified and slept in our room for a week, and wouldn’t be left on his own in a room. Over the next few days, my mom’s partner, who had grown up in the area, phoned everyone he knew to see if anyone had heard anything, but no one had. A neighbour said she’d seen a man peer over the wall, just after the kids and I had left for the shops that morning – so we think someone was watching and waiting for us to go out. That scared me even more, to think I’d been at home with my baby and a stranger had been watching us. In the end, the police investigation was closed because of lack of evidence. We’d heard there were a few more burglaries in the area that might have been connected and someone was arrested, but they were released. We never got any of our stuff back.

Time to move on Things were quite tight for a while, but we decided that we wanted to move – neither me or Leon felt comfortable in the flat. I would stay away as much as possible; going to my gran’s after I’d dropped Leon at school and staying there until I went to pick him up. He got nervous every time we walked up the stairs to the flat. We had never felt unsafe in the neighbourhood before, but now everything had changed. It didn’t help that in the nights leading up to Christmas Neil was working late – the flat just seemed so scary. Act of kindness Our wonderful family lent us the money to replace our Christmas presents. I felt so guilty that they’d had to do that, but we had no other choice and had to accept their offer. Amazingly, someone also setup a Facebook group to raise money for us.

We still don’t know who it was, but I’ve a sneaky suspicion it was one of Neil’s friends who had a baby due on the same day as Oliver – he must have known how awful it is to be robbed just before your newborn’s first Christmas. I was overwhelmed by the kindness and the amount of people who donated. I then went back to all the shops and re-bought the presents that I’d bought months before and on Christmas Day, we went to my mom’s and they made an extra special fuss of Leon. However, none of us felt like going back to our flat that night as we didn’t know what to expect when we got home. In the New Year, we started looking for a new home and finally moved in March. Leon is much happier now – he doesn’t hide all of his stuff every time we leave the house any more, and he’s happy to be on his own in his bedroom. We’re all looking forward to having Christmas the way it should be this year. We’ve taken out home insurance and I have hidden all the presents in bin bags in the garage – I’m not taking any chances!

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