CORONA (CBSLA) — A nightmare before Christmas.
A real-life Grinch grabbed $1,500 worth of gifts from a home in Corona on Dec. 21.
“The home was totally ransacked,” said Darren Chin.
The thief or thieves broke in through the sliding glass door in back and ransacked room after room after room.
“It’s a traumatic experience,” said Chin.
Chin came home from work for lunch only to find his home had been worked over. At least 20 wrapped gifts were stolen just before Christmas.
“All the kids’ gifts. We’ve got three kids,” said Chin.
The two youngest don’t know about this. Thousands of dollars worth of items stolen.
“They took my laptop, a DSLR camera, my wife’s jewelry,” said Chin.
“They did take a specific piece of jewelry that was for my daughter. And that’s something I can’t replace,” said Angel Chin.
The neighbor across the street saw a white BMW driving up and down the street that day. And that neighbor’s security camera also caught a guy on the Chins’ walkway.
The Chins credit Corona Police Corporal Robert Montanez with spotting that car and the suspect in the early morning hours of Dec. 22.
“He jumped out of the car and started running through the neighborhood,” said Darren Chin.
Video from the Riverside County Sheriff’s helicopter shows the suspect running while carrying a backpack.
Police got him but the backpack was missing until a police K-9 tracked it down.
“In that backpack was a loaded 9-millimeter gun,” said Chin.
Now Chin considers himself lucky in one respect.
“That I didn’t interrupt the burglary because that person was going around with a 9-millimeter gun, loaded,” said Chin.
Police were able to recover eight stolen items including a few of the kids’ gifts. The rest, the Chins’ raced to replace before Christmas.
The Chins don’t believe the suspect acted alone.
“I think it was at least two individuals,” said Darren Chin
“It still kind of haunts me that somebody may come again,” said Angel Chin. “Who knows what would happen next time if that did happen.”
The Chins have installed a security system inside and outside their home.