NEW BRAUNFELS — In a crime right out of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” burglars broke into Comal County offices on Church Hill Drive in New Braunfels and made off with a stack of wrapped presents all ready to be given out at Wednesday’s employee Christmas luncheon.
Comal County Judge Sherman Krause said the thieves not only made off with an office laptop and a Christmas gift that had been given to County Commissioner Jan Kennady, but also focused on the Christmas party gifts, which were intended as door prizes.
“It looked like they really targeted those gifts, which were all wrapped and ready to go to the Christmas party,” Krause said.
The gifts had been purchased by elected officials and county department heads, who paid for them out of their own pockets.
“We had them all in one location. Our staff finished wrapping them up (Tuesday) and had them ready to go,” Krause said. “But when we got here this morning, they were all gone. Every one of them.”
The thieves also made off with some empty gift boxes that had been left near the wrapped gifts.
“They took those as well, maybe thinking there was something in those boxes, too,” Krause said.
The vast majority of the presents contained gift cards, Krause said. “A couple of them, I believe, contained actual cash as well.”
He said there were about 39 wrapped gifts stolen. Krause estimated their value to be in excess of $1,000.
The burglary occurred at the county’s temporary offices at the old Goodwin Elementary School, 1297 Church Hill Drive, where county commissioners and other officials are being housed while the county courthouse is being restored.
But, like “Grinch,” the story had a happy ending.
Krause said when it was discovered that the gifts had been stolen, calls went out to elected officials and department heads to see if they wanted to try to replace the door prizes in the few hours left before the 11 a.m. party at the New Braunfels Civic Center.
“We explained it’d still be nice to be able to give something out at the luncheon and there was an outpouring of generosity among those who had given before. They were more than willing to give again,” Krause said. “I think we actually ended up with more door prizes than we had stolen last night.”
The judge asked citizens who might come across anyone with a suspiciously large cache of gift cards to give Comal County Crime Stoppers a call.
“We’d appreciate it. It’d be great if we can catch the folks who did this,” Krause said.
Comal County Sheriff’s Deputy Gene Herndon, co-coordinator of Comal County Crime Stoppers, also put out a plea for help with catching the Christmas gift thieves.
“If you have any information or know who the Grinch or Grinches are who stole Christmas, or have any information about this crime, Sheriff’s Office investigators need your help,” Herndon said.
He said a tip, no matter how small or big, could help solve the case.
Tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible. All calls are confidential and the caller will remain anonymous.
Contact Crime Stoppers by phone at (830) 620-TIPS, via the web at www.comalcrimestoppers.org, or send an SMS text to CRIMES (274637) and COMAL.