‘Don’t steal from children’: RCMP search for thief who stole backpacks from Nanaimo toddlers

'Don't steal from children': RCMP search for thief who stole backpacks from Nanaimo toddlers

Anja and Patrick Rhomberg would never have imagined a thief would steal toddlers’ backpacks from their Nanaimo daycare if they hadn’t seen it in surveillance video for themselves.

“What bothers me the most is just how comfortable he was,” said Patrick Rhomberg.

The Nanaimo resident and daycare co-owner said a thief simply walked up to the front door and helped himself during the day earlier this week.

“Yeah and it’s supposed to be a safe space,” said Anja Rhomberg.

“They come here, they enjoy their day and then. Like that, it’s puzzling. It’s shocking,” said the co-owner and operator of the daycare.

It happened outside their home-based daycare on Nanaimo’s Wildlife Place at about 10:45 Tuesday morning.

Three tiny backpacks with changes of clothes, belonging to 2 and 3-year-olds from the daycare, were hanging on a fence outside the front door. The backpacks were hung there in response to a new measure brought in due to COVID-19 to limit items coming in and out of the facility – that is until the thief came along.

“You don’t steal from children,” Cst. Gary O’Brien of Nanaimo RCMP.

“They were small, like they were ages 2 to 3 years old. Whatever he thought was in them was just ridiculous,” he said.

Yet it isn’t isolated. In the past week, three Nanaimo daycares have been targeted by theft.

“There’s a lot of crime of opportunity in every community and these people are taking things they think they can convert to cash,” said Cst. O’Brien.

Two of the backpacks were later found thrown in bushes nearby and Rhomberg said parents of the daycare told their children what happened.

“They just told me a thief stole their backpacks,” said Anja Rhomberg.

So RCMP are hoping the public can help identify the suspect who was captured wearing this very unique hoodie…and help restore some of what’s been taken in this selfish crime.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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