Secret Santa helps El Cajon family after thief steals Christmas display

Residents, anonymous donor replace stolen items

EL CAJON, Calif. - It was an emotional walk outside for one El Cajon woman Wednesday, as a Secret Santa tried to undo the work of a thief.

"Oh, goodness; it makes me want to cry," said Jacque Bradfute, choking back tears as she looked upon the Christmas display donated by two El Cajon residents.

On Monday, Bradfute woke up to the sounds of someone stealing a Christmas display that she put up with the help of her 6-year-old stepdaughter, Haley.

El Cajon residents Shirley Johnson and Deena While spent the morning making an early holiday delivery in the form of the donated items.

"I'm excited. I think this is the greatest thing," said While.

This Christmas story began in not-so-great fashion.

Besides, the stolen display, the thief also nabbed items from a neighbor.

Bradfute wrote about the theft on an online police message board and received an unexpected response.

Johnson donated a decorative Santa and a wreath, while an anonymous El Cajon resident donated a tall blow-up.

"He (the donor) wanted her daughter to know there's good people in the world," said While, who knows the Secret Santa.

While helped set up the display, which included the Santa and an inflatable reindeer.

After seeing the display, Bradfute asked and received hugs from the two women. She then handed one of the women a card to give to her Secret Santa.

Bradfute told Haley about the thief, and as far she knows, the Santa is still gone. She'll see the display on Thanksgiving.

"It makes me feel really blessed. She can now remember that somebody did this when they didn't have to. It feels like the holidays again," said Bradfute.

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