Local News

Thieves Steal Christmas Gifts From Johnston Co. Homes

Posted December 23, 2005 4:52 a.m. EST

— In Johnston County, some real-life Grinches are stealing Christmas. They're breaking into homes and taking presents.

What makes these break-ins so unusual is that it appears the thieves are making themselves at home around the Christmas tree and taking some time, deciding what to take.

"When they went in, the Christmas presents were wrapped up underneath the tree," said burglary victim Earl Gautier. "They tore the papers and everything off, took items out of it and threw them down."

While Gautier, his wife, son, and daughter were all at work, thieves broke into their home.

"They opened the storm door and kicked the back door," said Gautier. "They kicked it in, so it's going to have to be replaced."

He said they unwrapped every present under the tree.  They took some of the gifts while leaving others behind. They also swiped electronics and jewelry.

"Three or four days before Christmas, when something like this happens, it's just frustrating to everybody," he said.

The Gautier family isn't alone. Johnston County investigators said they've had 20 cases just this week of someone breaking in and stealing Christmas presents. In some cases, they've actually stolen toys out from underneath the tree. In at least one case, investigators said the thieves destroyed the family Christmas tree.

The stolen items range from diamond rings to Barbie dolls. One family lost about $20,000 worth of items. But some things just can't be replaced.

"My daughter, they got her class ring from South Johnston, that she graduated in," said Gautier. "Hopefully we can find that."

Investigators said all of the burglaries happened in broad daylight. They said that in nearly every case, someone kicked in the door. 

There are no arrests so far. Johnston County deputies are asking anyone with information to give them a call.