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Thief steals mom's car packed with kids' Christmas gifts

Posted at 9:31 AM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 11:31:23-05

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- A distraught mother is on the hunt for clues after a thief stole her car and all the gifts she bought for her three children.

"We love Christmas," said Brenda Gamino of San Diego, California.

Gamino's Christmas tree is brimming with holiday spirit, but the scene underneath the tree is a bit bare. The gifts that should be there are gone, along with her 1998 Acura Integra. It disappeared from in front of her home on Batista Street in Linda Vista last week.

"Really angry and crying a lot," said Gamino.

The theft was doubly painful. The car is her only way to get to work and drop of her kids - ages, 8, 10 and 12 - at school. When she realized what she had left in the trunk, her heart sank.

"Felt like something heavy fell on me," said Gamino.

Inside the trunk: dozens of gifts she was hiding from her children, some $400 worth.

"I was really upset. Couldn't believe someone would do that. It's Christmas!" said Gamino.

A few days later, her car was found in El Cajon, without a steering wheel. Gamino did not have theft insurance and is unable to afford the more than $500 needed to get it out of the tow yard.

After her kids overheard a conversation about the theft, they wrote up drastically reduced wish lists.

"One said, 'It's okay, Mom. We'll figure it out.' I've always taught them it's more about giving than receiving ... There was a lot of pride. Emotional and happy," said Gamino.

Gamino's friends are helping her with rides until she can purchase another car. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call San Diego police at 619-531-2000.

A GoFundMe has been set up for the family.

This story was originally published by Michael Chen at KGTV.