Mom lied about kids’ Christmas presents being stolen to get donations, Florida cops say

A Florida mother is accused of lying to deputies when she reported Christmas presents she bought for her children had been stolen, the sheriff’s office said.

The 39-year-old mom, of Lehigh Acres, contacted the sheriff’s office on Nov. 19 to report a residential burglary and said some of her property, including recently purchased Christmas presents, had been stolen, according to a Dec. 5 news release from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

She said since the presents had been stolen, her children would have to go “without gifts this holiday season,” the sheriff’s office said.

The mother was interviewed by WBBH and made a desperate plea for the supposed thief to return the presents, according to a video shared by the sheriff’s office.

“Turn yourself in and bring us back our stuff so me and my kids can have a good Christmas,” she says in the video.

A group of detectives investigating the burglary took it upon themselves to organize a gift donation through an American Legion chapter “given the unfortunate circumstances and timing” for the family, the sheriff’s office said.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office also provided funds from its program Shop with a Cop “to surprise the mother with new gifts,” deputies said.

Then the sheriff’s office received a tip through Southwest Florida Crimestoppers and the investigation took a “Grinch-like turn,” the sheriff’s office said.

Detectives “determined (the mom) lied about the burglary and found the reported stolen items hidden at a family member’s residence in Lehigh Acres,” the sheriff’s office said.

Video shared by the sheriff’s office showed a bin holding wrapped presents and bags hidden behind a washing machine.

The mother was taken into custody and charged with fraud through a false report to law enforcement.

“This pathetic behavior is unacceptable, especially given the circumstances this holiday season,” Sheriff Carmine Marceno said. “This woman took advantage of the system and is now paying the price for her selfish choices.”

Lehigh Acres is about 140 northwest of Miami.

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