‘They stole our Christmas’ ... mum’s anguish over theft of little girl’s presents

Tracy Hodgson with daughters Annabelle, centre, and Alice
Tracy Hodgson with daughters Annabelle, centre, and Alice

A little girl has been left heartbroken and her mum left reeling in shock after cruel thieves stole all their Christmas presents.

Mum Tracy Hodgson discovered the shocking theft on Christmas Eve after putting her 11-year-old daughter Annabelle to bed. “They stole our Christmas,” said Tracy.

Annabelle, who has special needs, had set her heart on a new doll - a lifelike ‘reborn doll’ - and mum Tracy had saved up hard to pay for it.

But the doll and a host of other presents were stolen from a locked cupboard outside their flat in Middle Way, Burgess Hill. “They just crowbarred the cupboard,” said Tracy.

One of Tracy’s other daughters, Alice Palmer, 22 - back home from university for the holiday - put a message on Facebook as soon as they discovered the theft - and was inundated with offers of help.

Tracy and Alice spent the rest of Christmas Eve driving around to the homes of kind people who donated gifts for Anabelle so that she would have something to open on Christmas Day.

“People were really kind to us,” said Tracy, “but Anabelle believes 100 per cent in Santa and she can’t understand why he didn’t bring her the doll she wanted. She thinks she wasn’t a good enough girl.

“I had to explain that Santa came early and put the presents in the shed and some nasty person stole them.”

Tracy, who has to manage on benefits after suffering a stroke, said: “I wish they had knocked on the door and asked me - I would have given them anything I owned if they left her presents. I am really angry at them. Who would do that?”

As well as the doll, the thieves took doll’s clothes, a pram, two new coats as well as household items - including a pack of toilet rolls and a Hoover.

The theft was the final blow for Tracy and Annabelle who had been given a family gift of a holiday at Butlins in the run-up to the festive period. But Annabelle caught an infection - hand, foot and mouth - and mum and daughter were confined to their room for a week.

Poorly Annabelle was still contagious when they came home and could not attend the last fun week of school. “She missed her Christmas play and her Christmas dinner. And to top it all, someone stole her presents.

“She is a special little girl and for this to happen to her is awful. The one thing she wanted was the doll. It’s heartbreaking to me. I’m still reeling in shock from it all.”

Police confirmed that enquiries into the theft are ongoing.