SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — An Orange County Army sergeant was all packed and ready to head back overseas on assignment when a thief jumped into her vehicle parked in the driveway and fled.
It happened at about 3:15 a.m. Thursday morning after the woman and her father, Baltazar Cuevas, had finished packing up the vehicle. The two ran back inside the home for just a moment to pray for safe travels when the thief struck.
Video from a home security camera shows a man jumping into the vehicle and driving away, but not before the woman and her father chased the vehicle down the driveway.
“At the moment I don’t think about it, I didn’t think nothing about it,” Cuevas said. “I just wanted to stop him.”
The man in the car hit the gas, running into a wall and over the family’s mailbox before almost pinning the woman against a palm tree.
“Thank God nothing happened, because he almost run over us,” Cuevas said.
But the suspect got away with more than just the woman’s Infiniti Q35, because in the car was her military paperwork, identification cards for both she and her daughter, clothes, toys and even Christmas presents for her daughter and her husband.
Officers with the California Highway Patrol were so moved by the woman’s story that they collected Christmas presents for her daughter and gift cards for the family.
“We have over $400 in gift cards for you,” one officer said.
And while it will take weeks to get the necessary documents for she and her daughter to join her husband in Japan, she said she was grateful to the CHP.
“We thank the CHP for giving us all of these gifts so that my daughter can have a Christmas this year,” she said. “And hopefully we’ll get to fly out to our new home soon.”
Investigators are still looking for the stolen vehicle and asked that anyone with information call the Orange County CHP.