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Autistic girl's quinceanera dress, gifts stolen in Victorville

August 21, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Memories of her quinceanera are all that a mentally disabled girl has of her special day. Thieves made off with her dress, shoes, tiara and even her gifts.

For Joanne Chaidez, her quinceanera was both a celebration and a victory. The 15-year-old, who is autistic, had to overcome her fear of loud music and crowds to attend her own party last weekend.

"It took a lot of preparation for us to get her there. And for her to get there, and then the next morning, wake up and it be taken away from her, that's the hard part," said Joanne's father, Miguel Chaidez.

Miguel Chaidez says after celebrating his daughter's birthday, he placed her gifts, cards and dress in the trunk of the car. The family went home and parked the car, leaving the items until the next morning.

The day after the teen's big day, the family came out to the car to retrieve her gifts but realized that someone had already beaten them to it.

"As I looked out there, both doors were open, the trunk was open and everything was gone... including the dress. That's the only thing we truly want back, is the dress," said the girl's father.

Many of the stolen gifts and birthday cards have been replaced by family and friends. Joanne happily showed us her new stuffed horse, sketch book and coloring pens. But she doesn't understand why her special dress that she helped pick out is missing.

"She actually looked like a princess. It was really beautiful and someone took that away from her," said the teen's mom, Eileen Chaidez.

The Chaidezes say their daughter's quinceanera may be the only big day that she'll have to herself.

"This is basically all wrapped up into one: her big day, her big wedding, her big sweet 16. It was her memories for her future," said Miguel Chaidez.

The Chaidez family is just asking for the dress to be returned. They're even offering a reward.

San Bernardino County sheriff's investigators are looking into the case. They want to talk to a woman seen on a surveillance photo, but they did not give details about why. The woman appears to have a large tattoo on her right forearm, and she may be driving a small, red newer model SUV.

Anyone with information was asked to contact the Victorville sheriff's station at (760) 241-2911.


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