Thousands of dollars in donated gifts stolen from Half Moon Bay church

- A greedy thief has cashed in on others’ giving spirit by swiping thousands of dollars in gifts donated to a Half Moon Bay church.

Organizers at Our Lady of the Pillar Church are helping others by taking part in an annual gift drive for needy kids. Sadly they’re now scrambling to recover from the “Grinch-like” theft.

“We’re all sad,” said John Denniston, San Mateo County chapter president at St. Vincent De Paul Society.

The church is working with the society to brighten up the holidays for children and families struggling in the community. In addition to running thrift stores, Saint Vincent’s leads a gift donation drive each Christmas called the ‘Giving Tree’.

Instead of ornaments, the tree is decorated with tags of names of children in need.

“People from the community come who want to give and take one of the names off and buy the gift for the 12-year-old girl,” Denniston said.   

He said they were well on their way to collecting gifts for 250 kids in Half Moon Bay, before the thief or thieves climbed over a locked fence at the church and made off with bags of wrapped presents from a storage container. 

"The community had spent so much time and effort collecting these gifts for needy kids in the community and so we're just really sad that they've been stolen,” he said.

"It's a low; it's really a low,” said San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department spokesman, Salvador Zuno. 

Police say they’re trying to track down the thief who hit sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning, but there’s little to go on. 

"We have no video, no photographs,” said Zuno. “We are hoping that there's someone out there that may know something.”

Or at least someone who will speak on behalf of the victims of this Christmas crime— the hundreds of kids who won’t have anything to celebrate.

“The families don’t have the means to buy Christmas gifts, so there would be none,” said Denniston.

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