What kind of burglar would be a big enough Grinch to take wrapped Christmas presents right from under a tree? That is what St. Paul police are trying to figure out.
In addition to the heartache of having their holiday stolen from them, the crook also got away with the victims' checkbook and Social Security cards. That has them spending the weeks before Christmas calling banks and credit bureaus to avoid becoming victims if identity theft as well.
The appalling burglary took place in broad daylight, and Tom Yang told Fox 9 News he can't afford to replace what was taken.
"I bought it for her and wrapped it up really nice," he said of one gift. "I was hoping she would open it up on Christmas."
While most believe it is better to give than to receive, whoever broke into Yang's St. Paul apartment didn't see it that way. On Saturday afternoon, someone forced their way into the home and stole a 40-inch television, a safety deposit box containing important documents, and wrapped presents from the tree.
"I pushed open the door and our Christmas tree was on the ground, and our ornaments and our presents were scattered everywhere," Dee Xiong recalled.
Xiong told Fox 9 News she has been spending a lot of time away from home, taking care of her father because he recently suffered a stroke.
"He's at home by himself, so I have to constantly be over there to cook for him and take care of him," she said. "I guess that was their opportunity to rob us, to steal from us."
Yang said the two were only gone for a short time, and he suspects whoever targeted their home must have watched them leave before breaking in and taking about $2,000 worth of possessions and presents.
"It's not the price on it -- it's the stuff that we bought our family and it's the reason why we bought it," Yang said.
Police say holiday-related crimes are common this time of year. As people feel generous, thieves begin to target shopping mall parking lots as they look for cars loaded with valuable presents.
"Not only do they take the gifts and the material possessions -- really, they take the emotion and the joy out of it too, which is unfortunate for everybody," spokesman Howie Padilla said.
As for Yang and Xiong, they're not only running out of time, but also out of money. After months of saving to make it a memorable Christmas, they have a message to the crook.
"You shouldn't have done it," Xiong said. "You just ruined the holidays for us, and I just hope you return everything or at least turn yourself in."
Although many thefts are crimes of opportunity, police recommend being careful about throwing out boxes after Christmas too because they could alert burglars that new electronics have arrived.