Kyogle family's Christmas ruined by car thief
On Christmas night, a thief stole Ben Lewis’s car and all its contents, including son Coden’s Christmas presents, while the father and son were on holidays at Bribie Island, north of Brisbane.
The thief then drove the car to Murgon, in central Queensland, and stripped it, taking the stereo, a wallet, clothes and a mobile phone, as well as opening all the Christmas presents. Ben and Coden were left with just the car, a 1992 Holden Calais which was returned by police on Sunday afternoon.
When he noticed the car was missing a frantic Ben rang the local community radio station in Caboolture, near Bribie Island, and spoke to the Sunday morning announcer, who recounted the tragic circumstances to listeners.
In response listeners inundated the station with calls offering money and presents for the father and son.
In a cruel twist to the situation, Ben, a doting father sporting a leg brace, and his son, who is a spitting image of his dad, had the car packed with all their belongings, ready to return home on Boxing Day.
Ben said the hardest thing had been trying to explain to Coden what had happened to his Christmas presents.
“How do you tell a four-year-old kid that his presents are gone,” he said.
“When I saw the car was missing from the driveway I swore a lot and then immediately thought, what has my brother done with the car.”
It’s been a tough few years for the Lewis family. Ben injured his leg and lost his job two years ago, and soon after he and his wife separated.
In the 24 hours after the radio station publicised the Lewis’s plight, it received donations of games, toys, clothes and money from local residents, which were proudly displayed on the front counter.
Station manager Brian Smith was heartened by the response from listeners.
“It’s a low act when people take a kid’s toys at Christmas,” he said.