Skip to content

Precious Christmas memories likely dumped from stolen van in Midland-area (5 photos)

Bradford resident Donna Cronk Kokkinen's large totebox containing sentimental keepsakes in van stolen from Barrie garage

Donna Cronk Kokkinen isn’t looking for anything glamorous or expensive for her upcoming 71st birthday.

In fact if possible, the Bradford woman just wants a few precious Christmas keepsakes with high sentimental value returned to her.

The story begins earlier this month when her son’s work van was stolen from a Barrie garage where it was awaiting repair.

“The power steering needed to be fixed,” Cronk Kokkinen says, noting the lock-box containing sets of keys for vehicles in the garage lot was broken into, and for some reason the thief decided to take the van emblazoned with company logos rather than one of the other unmarked vehicles.

“Who’s going to steal a van with Nordik Windows & Doors painted on the side?” she asks.

But inside the van was a big, blue plastic tote-box containing the few Christmas items she opted to keep after downsizing and moving to a small apartment.

“I live in a very small place and my son was going to store it for me at his home in Washago,” Cronk Kokkinen explains over the telephone from Sarnia where she is visiting her newborn great-grandchild.

After leaving the garage parking lot, the driver of the stolen van soon began a cross-county tour that saw him heading up to Midland and Penetanguishene where he eluded police before eventually being stopped on Highway 400 after OPP officers placed a spike belt along the busy thoroughfare.

A 22-year-old Barrie man faces a slew of charges relating to the theft and police pursuit that ended on February 10.

Cronk Kokkinen said she suspects the large tote was dumped by the roadside somewhere in the Midland-area to give the culprit a place to sleep.

Items in the large box marked “Donna’s Christmas tote” include decorations and ornaments made by her children when they were little, Santa Claus figures carved by her late father Ron Cronk and a special red music box she had given her late mother Lila Cronk as a gift. There were also special fabric place-mats and a runner made by a dear friend, who has also passed away.

“I brought the red music box for my Mom when she was dying in the hospital,” she says. “I played it for her.”

Cronk Kokkinen’s voice breaks often as she describes the items, which she notes might not be worth a lot financially, but hold a very special place in her heart.

“I can’t hardly breathe when I think about what was in there,” she says. “It’s just full of memories. If I only got one thing back I would be so grateful.

“I believe in miracles…you just never know.”

Reader Feedback

Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
Read more