After 10-year-old Kiona Anderson won a two-year battle with leukemia in November, her mother, Amy Anderson, purchased gifts from Walmart.com to honor her “cure date.” But when the packages were delivered, a burglar was apparently lying in wait.
That heartless crook swiped more than $200 worth of gifts sitting outside the home at Victoria and Shield streets in Ingleside Heights, Taraval Police Station Lt. Con Johnson said.
While the heist could have added insult to injury, the subsequent actions of Taraval officers and neighbors gave the story a happy ending.
About 5:40 a.m. Dec. 3, Johnson said, he began his morning shift by reviewing recent police reports and was instantly struck by Kiona’s case.
“Ms. Henderson informed Officer [Buddy] Siguido that her little daughter, Kiona, was valiantly recovering from cancer and would be heartbroken in receiving the bad news that the ‘Grinch’ stole her Christmas gifts,” Johnson said.
Kiona’s reaction, however, was astonishment, said Anderson, a high school teacher who only moved her family to the neighborhood in September. The girl said, “What did I do that Santa would let my packages get stolen?” Anderson said.
Johnson said the cops at his station deal with grim reports every day, but were especially moved by Kiona, who is “so full of life.” They reportedly collected cash from colleagues and purchased Kiona a Toys R Us gift card that exceeded the value of the stolen items. The officers also invited Kiona to the station, where they gave her a tour and a teddy bear.
Anderson said she was floored by their kindness.
“They took so much of their time to take us through the precinct, to hear Kiona’s story,” Anderson said. “They wanted to feel a connection to her.”
Kiona then paid that kindness forward. The girl told the officers she planned to give half the value of the gift card to a family she knows who is in need.
“It was just really beautiful ... human kindness all around,” Kiona’s mother said.
Anderson also acknowledged the graciousness of her neighbors following the theft.
Residents believe the same thief hit two homes in the area while casing delivery trucks. Even worse, they believe the thief might be a neighbor.
An investigation is ongoing, said Johnson, adding that despite the theft reports, the neighborhood where the Andersons live is safe.
“That’s just something that happens during this time of year,” Johnson said. “People are following UPS and FedEx around with intent to steal packages.”
Anderson said she now loves her new neighborhood and feels very blessed that her daughter’s cancer is in remission.