Valentine thief steals special gift for 7-year-old

A family friend thought 7-year-old Audrey Noland should have a Valentine’s Day gift waiting for her when she got home from school.

But all the second-grader found was a deflated balloon in the bushes. The rest of the balloon bouquet and candy that the friend had left on the front porch was stolen Thursday afternoon.

A neighbor saw a man pull into the driveway and brazenly snatch the gifts. The neighbor, who couldn’t believe what she was seeing, was unable to read the license plate, but she called Audrey’s mom, Jan Noland, at work.

“People take things,” Noland said later Thursday, with resignation. “But it’s a terrible situation that somebody would do that.”

The single mother and her daughter live behind the Wal-Mart where the old Blue Ridge Mall used to be. Jan Noland says it’s a nice neighborhood, although someone did steal two animated and lighted Christmas deer from their yard last year while they were at church.

Noland related the Valentine’s theft on her Facebook page because she didn’t want whoever left the bouquet and candy to wonder why they didn’t receive a thank-you. She has since learned who it was.

She said Audrey knows what happened, but she had a happy Valentine’s Day anyway, because of her party at school.

“She’s still sad about the reindeer,” Noland said. “It’s sad that people do things like this.”