Arletta Kinder, a single mother living on a fixed income, said she was hoping to make this Christmas a special one.
Her children, Mikel, 6, and Kaylee, 5, had seen lean Christmases before, she said. But this year, there was a growing pile of presents under the tree.
"This was going to be their first real Christmas in a couple of years," Kinder said Wednesday. "And someone just came in and took it away from me — took it away from my kids."
Wichita police said a burglar broke into Kinder's house in the 800 block of South Terrace between 6 and 7:15 p.m. Tuesday. Taken were dozens of wrapped presents and the family Christmas tree.
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"It was a 32-inch white Christmas tree," Kinder said. "It came from Dollar General; I'm not worried about that."
But she said she can't afford to replace the presents.
"There was little bit of everything," she said. "There were board games, books, clothes.... I thought of the silliest things to buy my kids."
Kinder said the break-in occurred while she was visiting a friend who lives five blocks away.
The burglar broke a bedroom window to get in, she said, scooped up the presents and went out the same way.
Kinder said police did not take the break-in lightly.
"They were here for like three hours," she said. "There's still fingerprint dust all over.
"I went door-to-door with an officer and asked the neighbors if they heard anything, but they didn't. ... It was between 6 and 7 at night, and everyone was still up. How can you not hear glass shattering?"
Kinder said most of the presents were purchased from local discount stores. Some of the more expensive ones came from a catalog.
"There was a doll with seven outfits, and there was this road racer thing where the wheels light up in all different colors," she said.
Kinder said her children are probably too young to understand why someone would want to steal their Christmas.
"They do understand that their stuff is gone," she said.