Thief hits Tampa church days before annual Christmas event to help people in need

Posted at 9:48 PM, Dec 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-22 23:27:30-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa church is asking for the public's help in finding the person who stole several inflatable holiday decorations only days before their annual event helping local families in need.

Reliant Family Church uses the inflatables to create an outdoor display every year, helping turn their parking lot into a Christmas wonderland.

But only hours after the church hosted a toy giveaway for children in need on Sunday, someone stole five inflatables.

"It was disappointing," said Sarahi Medina, a pastor at Reliant Family Church. "We pride ourselves that if there's people in need in the community, that we want to love on them, we want to be there for them and if someone needs something, we're the helping hand."

The church reported the crime to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. They also posted surveillance video that shows a white, older-model car driving out of the parking lot after the crime occurred.

The decorations are the centerpiece for the church's annual Christmas program.

Despite the loss, church leaders are ready to forgive the person responsible.

"We just pray that you are loved and if there's anything that you need, just come to us and we'll be more than glad with open arms to receive you," said Medina.