The burglary happened in daylight and only about eight parking spots from the front door of a Chuck E. Cheese. For the family, it was a very bitter end to what had been a sweet celebration.
Valerie Hernandez is an energetic little girl. Turning five is a big deal, and her mother, Ashley Hutchinson, wanted to make it memorable. The single mom saved for weeks for the Hello Kitty-themed party.
"We had an awesome time. My whole family was here," Hutchinson said.
The candles were blown out, gifts were opened, and pictures were snapped with the characters until it was just about time to leave.
"Valerie had the biggest smile ever," Hutchinson said.
When Hutchinson made a second trip to her car in the parking lot, something wasn't right.
"At first I just couldn't believe it. I was just like, 'Hold on, wait a minute. Is this a joke?'" she said.
Her purse and the camcorder that had been with Hernandez's cousin were gone. And so was a big bag full gifts.
"I threw everything in one bag because I thought it would be easier for me, and technically, it made it easier for them," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson says the car was locked, but they made their way in through the window she left cracked due to the heat.
"She was crying," Valerie said.
The mother had to explain it to her daughter.
"I know how these people feel when Christmas comes around or birthdays come around and things go missing. It really hurts," Hutchinson said.
As she is working to replace the gifts now, Hutchinson says she's trying to pass on lessons learned.
"How I was taught from my grandma is you just pray for the people who do the bad things, because maybe they do need it more than you do," Hutchinson said.
Police are investigating the theft.