The Grinch did not wait for Christmas Eve to ruin Christmas for a town of Scott family.
“To steal the gifts under the Christmas tree — just heartless,” said Detective Lt. Roger Brandner of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.
While there is no report of a missing “roast beast,” two area residents are charged with burglary after deputies said they took — in addition to tools and other items from the garage — a total of 15 wrapped presents from under a Christmas tree that were meant for four children.
“This is one of the more disgusting crimes” she’s had to charge, said District Attorney Jane Kohlwey at a hearing Thursday in Columbia County Circuit Court.
Charged in the burglary are Charlene D. Gordon, 46, of Portage; and Dean H. Jansma, 43, of rural Cambria.
According to a criminal complaint, the family returned home Monday after going out for shopping and dinner to find that the presents were missing from underneath their Christmas tree.
Brandner said the gifts, for the children ages 6 to 16, were not recovered.
“A number of them were clothes, which the family needed,” Brandner said.
Also missing from the family’s garage were drills, a shop vacuum, an air compressor and a jack, said deputies who investigated.
A witness said a woman matching Gordon’s description was seen exiting a vehicle and walking into the house and that the vehicle was at the house about 30 minutes.
Detectives made arrests within 24 hours of the burglary by tracing pawn store records to Jansma, and connecting Jansma to Gordon through additional records, according to Brandner.
“I’m thankful we were able to solve that right away,” Brandner said. “Justice is not usually that swift.”
The complaint said records show that Jansma sold several items at two Madison pawn stores about 6:26 p.m. Monday and that the items matched those that were taken from the town of Scott home.
Deputies also matched samples of the wrapping paper used for the presents with pieces found in Jansma’s residence, according to the complaint.
Investigators said Gordon admitted that she and Jansma took items from the garage and pawned them in Madison.
When she was asked if she took any Christmas presents, Gordon replied, “You mean Christmas presents wrapped under the tree? No,” the complaint stated.
Investigators did not recover the missing, and presumably unwrapped, presents.
“The perpetrators were not cooperative, nor did they provide us the location of where they dumped the presents,” Brandner said.
Brandner said he hopes the family will be able to recover in time to have a good Christmas.
“It sure throws a wrench in things for them,” Brandner said. “With financial struggles most families are going through, to buy presents and not have them just makes it harder on everyone.”
Jansma and Gordon each face 10 years in prison as an initial maximum sentence on a charge of felony burglary of a dwelling as party to a crime; they also face up to nine months in jail on a misdemeanor theft charge as party to a crime.
Gordon faces an additional 18 months in jail on two misdemeanor bail jumping charges.
Jansma is free on a $1,500 signature bond. Gordon was ordered held on $150 cash bail after Kohlwey noted that Gordon was on bond on two criminal cases at the time of the burglary; she was previously charged with two counts of operating after revocation of her driver’s license.
Each is scheduled for a pretrial conference Feb. 1 and a court hearing Feb. 21.