When 7-year-old Noah placed his beloved Nintendo DS on a table at McDonald's, he thought it would be safe with all the adults around to keep an eye on it. Little did he know that in this case, an adult would be the one he needed to watch out for.
Noah, along with his sisters 11-year-old Courtney and 3-year-old Lilly, went with their mother Angela to the popular fast food restaurant on Aug. 1. Their father was recovering from a construction accident and, according to Angela, she decided to get the kids out of the house so he could rest a little. And what better place to spend the last Saturday before the start of school than the play area of McDonald's?
Angela says the group arrived at lunch time — between 11:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. — and ordered their food. Noah set his black and red Nintendo with the game Lego Battles inside of it down on the table and the children ran back and forth, alternating between eating and playing.
It was Noah, according to his mom, who first noticed the game system was missing when he went to play it. Noah suffers from a form of Autism, and one of the side effects is the inability to understand certain situations.When the South Salem first-grader saw that his game was gone, he raised the alert. Angela and her children began searching for the game system, along with the other mothers in the play area. The game and Nintendo together were worth roughly $150, and like many Autistic children, Noah had fixated on the Nintendo, and it had quickly become his favorite toy.
"We looked for about 15 minutes," recalled Angela. "We looked in the play area, under the tables — and I remember, at one point, looking up and seeing a woman watching us. She was there with at least one little girl — maybe two — and she just watched us. I should have known then that her behavior was kind of odd, but I was just trying to find the Nintendo."
Angela went to the counter and spoke with the manager who, she says, was incredibly helpful and volunteered to pull the video footage from the time the Nintendo was noticed missing.
"He went to the back and then came out and walked to the play area," Angela said. "Then he walked up to me and said 'she's gone.' I asked him who and he said 'the woman who took your Nintendo.'"
Angela said the woman was videoed walking past their table and swiping the Nintendo. She looked to be in her 50s and was wearing a strapless top and tan Capri pants. She had at least one child with her — a little girl.
When Noah realized that he wasn't going to get his Nintendo back, Angela says her son "lost it."
"And she just watched. She knew she took it and she sat there and watched him."
Noah has not yet been able to register that his Nintendo is gone. Because of his Autism, he doesn't understand why he can't play his games.
"He sees his Nintendo games and wants to play them," Angela explained. "And he doesn't understand why he can't. It all just makes me extremely angry. How could you possibly steal from a child? Other kids may steal things and that's unfortunate, but a grown woman stealing from a small child — how do you do that?
"If I were standing right in front of her, I would tell her she was just so low. To put her needs in front of a child's needs. And she was with a child — possibly more than one — what type of role model is she for those kids she was with? As a mother, I am furious that someone would hurt my child like this. Steal from me if you want to be that immoral, but don't steal from my son.
"I would ask anyone that knows who she is to think about your kids — what if it were your kids this happened to?" she said. "Wouldn't you want someone to return your child's toy? What kind of morals are we showing to the kids we are bringing up? If it were me, I would report someone if I knew they had done something like this and I hope if anyone knows who she is that they do the same."
Angela has filed a police report and fully intends to press charges should the woman be found. She is hoping that someone with information about the theft will come forward and provide information about the woman who was seen stealing the Nintendo.
As for Noah, she says, she believes the Nintendo should be returned to him.
"I think that would be the right thing to do," she said. "And it would make him extremely happy."
The Newton County Sheriff's Office is handling this case and can be reached at (678) 625-1400. Tips can also be left on their Web site at www.newtonsheriffga.org. All tips can be given anonymously.