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Ron Komendera says someone took between $500 to $1,000 from the holiday light display donation jar. It was enough for him to consider cancelling Christmas. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.
A Bonita man is furious after someone stole Christmas donations from a holiday block party.
Last year he raised over $2,000 for Rady Children's Hospital. This year he was looking to surpass that number -- until someone took the money.
Ron Komendera, 77, lives for this time of year. For ten years, he has worked to perfect all 36,000 Christmas lights on display in the front yard of his Cienega Drive home. But this year, what’s being called a real life Grinch stole his Christmas joy.
"I emotionally, literally broke down. I work on this display all year. It takes me three weeks to put it up,” Komendera explained.
About four years ago, Ron decided to use the display as a chance to give back. He leaves a jar for visitors, asking them to donate to Rady Children’s Hospital. Saturday, during his annual Grand lighting, hundreds of people came to his neighborhood. As in year’s past, he says the donation jar was full.
"I said 'my God are they throwing money in there?' Because all I could see were $10 and $20s.”
Komendera says he thought about emptying the jar but before he had a chance to, someone else did.
"I dont know how long it was, approximately 30 minutes later maybe. I looked over here and the money was down to here," he said, pointing to the bottom of the jar.
Ron says someone took between $500 to $1,000 from the donation jar. It was enough for him to consider cancelling Christmas.
"I wanted to immediately start taking down the display. I was hurt that much. I did all I could do, they had to hold me back because I said I'm taking this down right now."
Now Ron says he's fighting back, spreading the word about what happened and hoping to have an ending just like the famous Christmas story.
“For God's sake if you got any honesty in your bones bring the money back. Secretly. Anyway. Just bring the money back,”
Komendera says he is working to find someone to make him a metal donation box he can mount to his mailbox. He has surveillance cameras around his home but they did not capture who was responsible.
San Diego County Sheriff's Deputies are now investigating.