CENTERVILLE —When some expensive ice skates vanished from the back of a SUV early Wednesday morning, a family learned a hard lesson about the "season of taking."
Jennie Stephens walked out to the vehicle, found the doors unlocked and had a sinking feeling.
“I thought, ‘I don’t think I saw my daughter’s ice skating bag back there,” she recalled.
Sure enough, the bag was gone along with her 12-year-old daughter Anne’s ice skates, valued at $600.
A review of the house’s surveillance cameras showed an unknown man in a parka and beanie testing the doors of both cars that were in the driveway at the time, and spending 5 minutes rummaging through the SUV, before taking off in a car he parked across the street.
Stephens said she felt “anger” and “extreme guilt” over what happened, especially because those skates were very important to Anne.
Anne, who had been figure skating for six years, contracted an extreme case of mononucleosis in April and only started to feel better within the past month.
A performance scheduled for Friday at the South Davis Recreation Center in Bountiful was supposed to be the seventh grader’s comeback on the ice, but not without skates.
Not just any pair would do, and Stephens said they went to the rec center later Wednesday morning to see if any of the coaches there might have an extra pair that would work for Anne.
That’s when the family received their second surprise of the morning — a woman who showed up unexpectedly with the perfect medicine.
“She had a pair of skates that ended up being my exact size!” Anne exclaimed. “I’m really, really happy that she let me have these!”
The woman, Katie Mulvaney Young, said she competed nationally in U.S. Figure Skating when she was younger and had once had her skates stolen.
She said her daughter skates now and the two had arrived early at the rec center and overhead what the Stephens had been going through with Anne’s stolen ice skates.
Young had just purchased a new pair of ice skates Monday and told the family she had an extra pair of size sixes in her trunk.
“It felt right, it felt really good,” Young said. “I just wanted to pay it forward and I wanted to do something for that family that wasn’t done for me at the time I was competing and I wanted to lighten some of the burden this holiday season.”
Stephens and her daughter couldn’t believe what happened.
“It was really divine intervention and we kept saying, ‘It’s a Christmas miracle!'” Jennie Stephens said. “It was really just an amazing, amazing experience!”
That said, the family does want Anne’s skates back.
They said anyone who recognizes the man from their surveillance video should call Centerville Police at 801-292-8441.
Stephens said the skates could also be turned in anonymously to the rec center located at 550 N. 200 West in Bountiful.