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Community helps family that had gifts stolen from under tree

Published On: Dec 18 2012 08:27:36 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 18 2012 08:53:25 PM CST

A Columbia County community has come together to help a family whose Christmas presents were stolen from beneath of their tree.

In the Town of Scott, Josh and Brenda Wilcox were left with no gifts for their four daughters after the 15 wrapped boxes were stolen. Most of them were clothes, but an MP3 player was also stolen.

Charlene Gordon, 46, of Portage, and Dean Jansma, 43, of rural Cambria, are accused of taking the gifts. According to police reports, they also stole tools and other items from the garage.

They have both been charged with a felony count of party to the crime of burglary to a dwelling and misdemeanor theft as a party to the crime.

According to a criminal complaint, the family returned Monday after shopping and dinner to find the presents missing.

"My heart was broken. My heart sank for the kids," Brenda Wilcox said.

Josh Wilcox said he was sleeping in the house when the items were taken. The entire family, including the girls, has been shaken by the incident.

"They're just more aware of their surroundings now. They watch a little bit more and are afraid to go answer the door," Brenda Wilcox said.

Detective Lt. Roger Brandner of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office said detectives made arrests within 24 hours by tracing pawn store records to Jansma and connecting Jansma to Gordon through additional records.

Brandner described the thefts as heartless.

Between the Giving Tree, Pardeeville schools and other generosity from the community, the Wilcox family will now celebrate Christmas on time with a floor filled with presents for the children.

"Economically, this is a tough time for everybody, and so for these people to dig out of their own pockets and give to our kids shows a lot," Brenda Wilcox said. "It shows a lot that we come from a great community."

Brenda and Josh Wilcox said they hope others donate to organizations that offer children presents this holiday.

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