When Christmas gifts are stolen

Online friends come to aid of local family in Maple Ridge.

The Martin family (from left): Seth

The Martin family (from left): Seth

A Grinch stole Christmas from a Maple Ridge family, but the generosity of their online friends gave it back.

Cheryl Martin posted a frustrated and angry message on the Facebook page Protecting Maple Ridge, describing how the Christmas presents for her four children, which she had hidden in the family’s utility trailer, were stolen.

“I can’t live like this anymore! How are we supposed to keep going like this? We can’t keep our bikes outside, can’t keep anything in storage … we have no freedom in our own [expletive] house and now this family’s Christmas is ruined because of some low life’s! OMG! … I am so livid!”

On Saturday, her nine-year-old told her the utility trailer door was left ajar.

Martin knew what had happened.

After doing a big Christmas shop, she and her husband Sean had hidden the presents in the trailer parked outside their Wicklund Avenue home.

They have had bikes stolen, as well as a bike stroller, and learned the hard way that all expensive tools or toys have to be brought inside or locked in the trailer.

“We have to check our backs and make sure nobody is around. We thought we had been careful,” she said.

That morning, there were footprints in the snow leading to the trailer, then back to the curb.

The trailer’s lock had been cut.

More than $1,000 worth of presents were missing.

Three of her four kids, who range in age from six to 13, were at home.

“They all knew. I was just at a loss. What do we do now?”

Martin vented her frustration on the Facebook page, which has 5,700 followers, at 7:49 a.m. Saturday.

She mentioned that neither she nor her husband are working – Sean is dealing with a disability after losing his leg in an accident, and Cheryl just finished school for message therapy.

There are other similar posts – security camera images of a thief stealing an aerator and a leaf blower, and a barren spot on a snowy lawn where once a snowman stood.

“Someone seriously stole our snowman last night … only in Maple Ridge.”

Cheryl said these kinds of posts are not just about “venting,” but also creating awareness and preventing or solving crimes.

Her story resonated with the page followers, and there were instantly numerous offers of assistance. It was humbling for her, but there was reassurance her kids would have Christmas presents.

“Within two hours I felt so much relief,” she said. “It’s really nice to see the community come together.”

As one post noted:

“When I started reading this post, I was livid and felt sick for this family,” wrote Jennifer Williams McShane. “As I scrolled and read all the comments and offers of help, my negative feelings turned around to happiness and joy! This horrible theft is what makes me want to move far away from Maple Ridge, but the amazing community and kind-hearted people are what makes me want to stay! Way to go Maple Ridge citizens! You should be proud!”