The South Bend Police Department responded to a breaking and entering report on Christmas Eve morning. A burglar had taken food from the refrigerator and all the family’s Christmas presents, leaving nothing for the children to open on Christmas. The police responded to the call, then showed up with armfuls of gifts and food to replace the items the thief had stolen.
The SBPD posted a video of the officers to the Department’s Facebook page. “Earlier today, day shift officers responded to a Breaking & Entering complaint at a home in South Bend,” the Department wrote. “After talking to the homeowner, officers learned that Christmas gifts had been taken, leaving the children with nothing for the holidays. Fortunately, officers were able to get in touch with the organizers of the South Bend FOP Lodge #36 Santa’s Elficers program, who advised they had some leftover gifts to share. Officers then came back to the residence with several boxes of Christmas presents and food for the family. This is what serving our community is all about.”
In the video, the officers invite the children to come into the room, where a bunch of toys are placed under a small Christmas tree. Two children see the presents and run to the pile, laughing and jumping up and down in fits of excitement. A mother holding a third child also enters the room and gasps when she sees the toys. “Oh my goodness,” the mother exclaims, telling her children to tell the officers “thank you,” before thanking the officers herself. The children smile and present their new gifts to the officers in delight.
In an interview with local news station WNDU, the officers compared the thief to a real-life version of Dr. Seuss’s “The Grinch,” and explained how and why they replaced the stolen items. “They found out that the house had been burglarized, and in the process, the individual had taken all the gifts and even some food out of their refrigerator,” Patrolman Brian Meador told the outlet. “So, they really left this family with nothing much at all.”
“True-life Grinch,” Meador added. “Yep, cleaned them out. Not even the Who-hash or the Roast Beast (was left). It was all taken.”
Meador works with the “Santa’s Elficers” food and toy drive, which had already delivered toys to more than 400 local families and food to dozens more. The officers who responded to the scene of the crime reached out to him. “They asked if we had anything extra, and we keep items here at the station for just an instance like this,” he said.
“And when you see the kids, this morning I was able to go out and deliver the food and the gifts, and to see those little girl’s faces when they saw the presents under the tree and started playing with them, that’s why we do what we do,” Meador said. “That’s the positive part, and that’s what keeps us going as officers. And so, I hope it’s a memory for them that’ll last a lifetime. Maybe someday, they’ll be in a position to give back.”