BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Toys recovered by police during the arrest of a larceny suspect have now been returned to their rightful owner.
Barrington Police said they were dispatched late Tuesday night to County Road after a resident reported seeing a man breaking into a vehicle.
The suspect, identified as David Hedges, was located nearby and taken into custody.
According to police, Hedges had $46 in cash and $25.74 in loose change on his person, along with a couple of gift cards and 10 red capsules.
Police said they also found a bag full of toys in the area.
The following day, those toys were reported stolen out of the back of a car, and the man who they belonged to said he cried when he found out what his neighbor did to save his family’s Christmas.
Austin T. Levy Elementary School Principal Tim Milisauskas said he was watching Eyewitness News Wednesday night when he saw some toys that looked familiar.
“‘Hey that looks like what I bought my daughter… that looks like what I bought my nephew,'” he recalled thinking. “I realized from your program that it was stolen. I was completely in panic.”
Milisauskas was devastated, especially since his 5-year-old daughter had just donated many of her toys to kids in need.
“You store it some place the kids can’t find it,” he said. “Being a lazy husband, I was two weeks behind getting it out of the car.”
Milisauskas called police and found out his 70-year-old neighbor, a Navy veteran, saw the suspect a few doors down and ran him down and tackled him.
“I’m hoping he was trying to do something good for his kids and not just going out to steal to make money,” Milisauskas said of the suspect.
The principal also wanted to remind Hedges there’s plenty of programs he could’ve turned to.
“He should look into things like that and not try to steal from people who want to give to their own kids,” he said.
Milisauskas said he learned something important this week that he’s tried to teach students every year.
“As a principal, I always preach we have to find the good in things,” he said. “Last night, I went to bed thinking all kinds of negative things about people and I woke up this morning, when I heard the story about my neighbor, it reinvigorated me to what Christmas is about, what I am as a principal, what I try to teach these kids.”
Hedges, 22, of East Providence, was charged with larceny under $500 and tampering with an automobile.
Police advised area residents to check their vehicles for missing items.