Thief makes off with car full of family memories

November 30, 2012 9:54:59 PM PST
As a teenager, Danielle Germain appeared on ABC7 for a touching letter that got her on the Oprah Winfrey Show. But now, Germain is hoping to touch the heart of a thief who unwittingly made off with years' worth of priceless family memories that were in the back of her stolen car.

Fourteen years ago, Germain was on ABC7 when she went to meet Oprah Winfrey after winning a contest with an eight-page essay about her mom.

"I watched her on TV since the day I was born, now I'm going to be shaking hands with her," she said at the time.

In her winning essay, Germain wrote about how her mother woke up before Dawn to get Germain's brother Mike, Clayton and Tyler ready for school. The boys have since grown up, but just three months ago, Clayton's life was tragically cut short in a car crash.

"He'd just saved enough money to buy his own car," Germain said.

Today, Germain is heartbroken and the victim of a crime.

"It was bad enough to begin with and now it's, you just got to be kidding me, you know," she said.

Germain was about to drive her boyfriend to work in her GMC Denali. He started the car and then ran inside to get something.

"He said, 'I'll meet you in the car,' turned around and yelled, 'The car's gone,'" Germain said.

In the back of the car was Germain's laptop, filled with years of photos and videos -- the last remaining memories of her brother Clayton.

"It's only a couple seconds long, but the video means more to me than the car ever could," Germain said. "I just want my, my memories back."

Burlingame police say it is a safe neighborhood and the theft was almost certainly a random crime of opportunity. But that doesn't change the fact that the odds of getting those precious memories back are slim.

Police put the stolen computer's serial number in a national database, but even if they find it, it could be too late.

"Criminals tend to wipe them of any personal data that's on them so that we can't track it back to another person," Burlingame Police Sgt. Don Shepley said.

Germain's been searching Craigslist for the rare Jesse James rims that were on the truck and for her late grandfather's golf clubs that were in the back -- another family memory.

"It's the biggest holiday present you could give me and my family to just bring our sentimental belongings back please," she said.


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