ALISO VIEJO (CBSLA) — Residents of an Orange County neighborhood were very upset after a thief broke into more than a dozen cars earlier this week, and for one of the families, the timing could not have been worse.
Tephanie and Brett McCleave had just gotten home after spending multiple days in the neonatal intensive care unit with their 6-month-old son who has an inoperable brain tumor when they left their car unlocked with the keys inside as they slept early Wednesday morning.
When the parents of five awoke the next morning, sheriff’s deputies said they were one of the 14 vehicles hit that night by the thief.
“He took my son’s medications and crushed them in the street,” Tephanie said. “We discovered they had stolen (Brett’s) badge for work, my engagement ring out of my luggage.”
Buried in hospital bills and taking time off from work to care for his sick son, Brett, a Los Angeles County Firefighter, said this was the last thing his family needed.
“We’re spending a lot of time, a lot of money trying to help our son right now, and it costs us money to re-key cars and do all that,” he said. “But, in light of what’s going on in the bigger picture, I have my family, everyone is healthy and everyone is safe.”
Orange County sheriff’s investigators said home security cameras caught the suspect moving one truck into the middle of the road and taking another car on a joyride.
As for the McCleaves, they just want Brett’s badge and Tephanie’s engagement ring back.
“I prayed for him last night and for his family,” Tephanie said. “He’s somebody’s son, and I put myself in those parents’ position and thought, ‘How would I feel if I was in this position?’ It has to be heartbreaking.
Detectives are actively searching for the person responsible for the thefts, and ask anyone with information to call the sheriff’s department.