WHEN an 81-year-old charity worker returned at night to find her home in Ipswich had been ransacked, she couldn't believe it.
More unbelievable though was what happened next.
The elderly victim, who wished only to be known as Elsie, said thieves had emptied out her house while she was at a Christmas party.
"When I came home, I was in shock. All the drawers in the house were emptied out and tipped over - it was such a mess," she said.
Among the items taken were Christmas gifts, antique jewellery and cash which she had collected for charity.
"The thieves took Christmas away from me," the grandmother said.
Elsie's unfortunate situation didn't sit right with the officer who responded to her call, Constable Peter Lambert.
When the officer returned home after his shift, he saw Channel Nine's Today Show was giving hampers away and phoned the network to see if Elsie could have one.
After he explained the situation to producers, A Current Affair was notified of the story and decided to help Const Lambert give Elsie her Christmas back.
Businesses such as Harvey Norman and Woolworths were contacted and agreed to donate some items which had been stolen.
The next time Const Lambert visited Elsie, he was in the company of a news crew and bearing gifts.
A teary-eyed Elsie said she had been overwhelmed by the kind gesture.
As a way to thank the kind cop for his help, Elsie made a surprise visit to Ipswich Police Station, yesterday afternoon with a gift of her own.
She had prepared a hamper full of goodies to give to Const Lambert.
"Sometimes words aren't enough to say thank-you," she said. "So this is my way of showing how grateful I am.
"There a so many people out there who are doing it harder than me though, I don't deserve all this attention."
Her sense of humility was mirrored by Const Lambert who told Elsie that thanks was not necessary.
He said he just wanted to do something to let Elsie know that there were good people out there and to put a smile on her face again.
As a special treat, Gambaro Restaurant will treat Elsie and her friends - including Const Lambert - to a complimentary lunch this Saturday.
Const Lambert said the items that had been taken from Elsie's house had not as yet been recovered.
He added it was still not too late for the thieves to return the items, anonymously if the wished.
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