Toy heist no victory for Grinch, Salvation Army official says

FARMINGTON, N.M. — It’s been a hectic few days for the philanthropically minded in northern New Mexico after a real-life Grinch stole a Salvation Army van packed with about $6,000 in holiday donations intended for more than 350 children.

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“The Grinch will not have this victory,” Salvation Army Lt. Christopher Rockwell told The Associated Press.

The toys were originally slated for distribution on Monday, but the thief drove off in the marked minivan on Tuesday night as a Salvation Army employee loaded it with toys at a Walmart in Farmington, KRQE reported.

“Somehow, some way, my assistant’s pocket I believe got picked and they were loading (the van) in the front of the store, and there were a lot of people around,” Rockwell told KOB-TV.

“So all it took was one terrible person to see that and take advantage of it apparently,” Rockwell added.

According to a Facebook post by the Farmington Police Department, the 2011 Toyota Sienna originally sported two Salvation Army magnets on its sides that may have since been removed.

Officers are seeking the public’s assistance in a stolen vehicle case. A white 2011 sienna minivan was stolen from...

Posted by Farmington Police Department - New Mexico on Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Rockwell told KOB-TV that despite the bah-humbuggedness of the theft, the Farmington community is rallying to make sure that those 350 children never know anything was amiss.

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“The response of the community and what they’re doing is absolutely heartwarming because this area is just so generous and giving here in Farmington and the Four Corners area,” he added.

Specifically, Rockwell confirmed that business leaders and others have already donated “lots of toys, lots of clothing,” as well as hygiene items and cash, totaling more than enough to replace the stolen items.

“We have, like, a waiting list ... so we could see what we have left over,” Rockwell told the AP.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.