Christmas spirit alive in Xenia: Officer helps family targeted by thief

Dec 12, 2017
Kate Bartley

A thief took some clothes and towels from an unattended dryer inside a laundromat, threatening to ruin Christmas for one family. But Xenia Patrol Officer Rob Swihart made sure that wasn’t the end of the story.

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On Saturday Gena Storer left towels, washcloths, her baby girl’s clothes and other items in one of the three dryers at the Xenia Laundromat on Charles Street, she said.  

Storer said she planned to return later that day to retrieve the items after they had dried.

“We went to get our clothes and everything was stolen,” she said. “We were completely devastated.”

The thief took new pajamas, pants and other items that she had recently bought for her toddler-aged daughter, Storer said.

Xenia officer Rob Swihart and family

“It was stuff that we had just gotten her for Christmas that we went ahead and gave to her because she had outgrown all of her pajamas so fast,” she said.

Storer said they planned to return Christmas gifts that were already wrapped and under the Christmas tree to help pay for replacing the items.

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Xenia Patrol Officer Rob Swihart responded to Storer’s home to take the theft report.

Storer said Swihart took her daughter’s clothing sizes and other specifics of what was taken and left, promising to check with local charities to see if there might be help available. 

"He came back within less than two hours with Walmart bags of stuff that he had gone out and got with his own money and a $50 gift card on top of that,” Storer said. 

Swihart said it was a busy night, but he told his shift commander what happened and asked for permission to go to Walmart to help the family out.

Swihart, who is a new father of a 4-month-old, said he couldn’t bear the thought of the family going without during the holidays.

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“This isn't something that just goes on during the holidays,” he said. “I know that if I would have contacted any of the six other officers that were working with me that night and said, 'hey I need money for this,' they all would have ponied up money for it." 

Swihart added that it’s important for people to realize that "we're people too." 

"If we have the ability to help somebody out then that's what we want to do," he said. "In our line of work there's a lot of negativity. For us to be able to influence something in a positive manner that's important to us as individuals and us as a department.” 

Storer said she’s excited about Christmas this year. She can’t wait to see her daughter open the present that has Tickle me Elmo inside.  

“I'm still in shock,” she said. “It's like all the Christmas movies that you watch only it happened in real life for us."