LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — With Christmas just around the corner, the search is underway in Polk County for a “Grinch” who deputies say broke into a Lakeland family’s home and stole gifts.
“This is called the Grinch from Christmas 2021 with eggnog brain,” Sheriff Grady Judd said Tuesday. “And we want him in jail.”
According to the sheriff, the man was caught on video breaking into a Lakeland home Monday just minutes after the homeowner left. Judd said the home belongs to a single mom with two daughters, 8 and 11 years old on Longfellow Blvd.
“It’s almost like they kind of knew my schedule to had been watching me. Why my house was targeted, I cannot say why,” said the mother, Donna, who did not want to share her last name publicly. “I just don’t want him doing this to somebody else.”
Once inside the home, Judd said the man started stealing packages from under the tree.
“Eggnog for brains here steals the children’s gifts. They’re only 8 and 11,” the sheriff said. “In addition to that, you see he’s sneaking through the house… he’s in the sneak mode and he’s sneaking while he’s carrying [the mom’s] laptop. Her work laptop.”
Sheriff Judd said the man took several trips in and out of the house, and also took a 36-inch television.
Donna, the mother, says the gifts were worth $1,600.
“That was the worst part, just having to console the children. The children were crying on the driveway while the officer was fingerprint stuff throughout the house,” she said.
Donna said the family no longer feels safe in the home and slept elsewhere Monday night.
“It makes me so angry I could eat the pine needles off a Christmas tree. I cannot stand it – people taking stuff that doesn’t belong to them,” Sheriff Judd said. “And you know what? I’d like to arrest him. We won’t feed him pine needles, but I’d like to.”
The suspect may be driving a 2019 or newer dark colored 4-door Chevrolet Malibu, according to the sheriff’s office. Crime Stoppers is offering $2,500 to anyone who can identify the “Grinch.”
“I want him to wake up in the county jail on Christmas. Give me that for my Christmas present, please,” he said. “I want this man to have a wonderful Christmas meal – in the county jail.”
While Sheriff Judd said the goal is to recover the presents that were taken, the Polk Sheriff Charities will work the mom to make sure her children have a Merry Christmas no matter what.
“That’s what Santa Claus wants,” Judd said. “Santa Claus wants children to have presents on Christmas and they are in Polk County.”