December 16, 2006
A local family is left without Christmas gifts this year after a quick trip to the store left them stranded without a car.
A mother was on her way home from her husband's Christmas party on Wednesday night when she stopped at the Wal-Mart on Deans Bridge Road.
Vanessa Bustamante finds herself trying to explain to her three-year-old daughter Anayah why Santa may not be bringing more presents under the tree this year, and how the Grinch stole Christmas.
"We just finished all of our Christmas shopping," she told News 12. "Now we have to figure out how to replace all those gifts. She only has three under the tree."
That's because after stopping at Wal-Mart on Wednesday night, Vanessa realized the car she drove to the store in wasn't sitting in the spot she parked it.
"I know it was parked there," she said. "My girlfriend said, 'My car's there, where'd yours go?'"
All of her daughter's presents were hiding in the trunk of their white Buick.
"I couldn't let her see her presents, so I took them on post to have them wrapped. So they were all in the trunk of my car."
The gifts were tucked away out of plain sight of thieves. She even parked towards the front of the parking lot where she knew the surveillance cameras would be watching...but it still wasn't enough.
"I'm surprised it was stolen, especially with all the cameras out there," Vanessa said.
Worst of all, she says the car she relied on to get her to work every day didn't have full coverage because she didn't think she needed it on a old '92 Buick.
"Go steal a Lexus or something. My car's old not worth anything."
And with at eight least surveillance cameras recording 24 hours a day, Vanessa thought at the very least the robbers would be caught on tape. But when she asked store managers at Wal-Mart, she says they knew nothing about it.
"They're like, 'We're sorry to hear that, but we don't have any information.'"
Out of luck and out of hope on a day that's supposed to be filled with brightness.
Wal-Mart managers tell News 12 their parking lots are treated as public parking; therefore they are not liable for damages or stolen vehicles on their property.
The Wal-Mart on Dean's Bridge has outside security and a Richmond County sheriff's sub-station inside the store.