MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KTVU) - It’s an unexpected surprise for a single mother of four young children after her car was stolen full of presents. Police recovered the car, but not the gifts inside so they took matters into their own hands.
Marilyn Santos said she was devastated after a fun day of Christmas shopping turned into a nightmare last week. Her black Honda Civic was stolen in the K-Mart parking lot in Hollister.
"It feels sad because I worked so hard to buy that car and for people to just take my car,” said Santos.
Inside the car were new car and booster seats, a stroller and toys for her children. Her nine year old daughter Maria was also upset.
"I had my Christmas gifts for my teachers and there were teddy bears they would like,” said Nine year old Maria Santos.
They lost hope that the car would be found. Then Morgan Hill Police spotted it at Target last Thursday. Police said the two suspects used stolen credit cards tied to a burglary in San Jose. While they found the car, it was wiped clean of the presents.
"When you are a parent and you know children are victimized as a result of a couple of crooks stealing the family car you do you feel for the family” said Officer Chris Woodrow of Morgan Hill Police.
With their own money and help from the Police Officers Association, the officers went shopping replacing the lost items. They surprised mother Marilyn at police headquarters over the weekend.
"Right before I walked in,” said Officer Woodrow. “I did a little mea culpa and told her I had gotten her under false pretenses we gave her a little Christmas card that said Merry Christmas. She smiled and was a little confused but as soon as she walked into the room she knew."
Marilyn Santos was brought to tears.
"I have never in my life got any gifts like that,” said Santos.
It’s a reminder with every cloud at times comes a silver lining. Police now hope their actions will rub off on others.
“We knew we were doing the right thing but just knowing it helped her that much and meant so much,” said Officer Woodrow. “She was very grateful.”
Now that she has her car back, the mother is saving up to fix it. It was in pretty bad shape when she got it back, with parts missing but for now, she is thankful for Morgan Hill Police's act of kindness.