In a matter of minutes, the Christmas James Wheeler had planned for his two little girls was turned upside down.
It started as a typical weekday morning — Wheeler started his car Wednesday to let it warm up before going inside for a few minutes to get his daughters ready for school.
“I looked out their bedroom window and say, ‘the car’s been stolen you guys. I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say,’” Wheeler said, recalling how the parking spot was suddenly empty.
“They left so fast, they left a burnout in my neighbour’s spot.”
The 1998 Lumina was the family’s only vehicle. It also had a number of Christmas presents — ones for Wheeler’s daughters and wife — in the back.
“I’ve got two little girls and they’re just going to be devastated,” he said. “I also won’t be able to see my family this Christmas, they live up in Prince Albert.”
In a social media post Wednesday, Wheeler wrote, “I don’t care a whole bunch about the car, more just my kids’ Christmas.”
The car was later found smashed up in an undisclosed location with all the gifts gone. Wheeler said while insurance will cover the vehicle, it won’t cover the presents.
Whoever was in the car at the time of the crash also reportedly left behind a hat. Wheeler hopes it may be a clue as to who was behind the alleged theft.
Since the incident, people have stepped up to help. A family friend made a social media post asking for people to consider donating gifts for the kids.
Wheeler teared up when he found out someone had bought a Barbie doll for one of his daughters.
“That makes me feel so good,” he said.
Police warn about cold factor for thefts
Saskatoon police are reminding people to take extra precautions this time of year.
In a news release Thursday, police said weather for the upcoming week is expected to be quite cold – which can create good conditions for car thieves.
“We understand people enjoy a warm car, but please remember not to leave your keys in your vehicle,” the release stated.
Police also urged people to remove valuables and gifts from their vehicles as soon as they can.
– With files from 650 CKOM’s Erin McNutt.