As parents with strollers know, it’s quite easy for one to end up “missing” but usually with a little searching it can be found. Sometimes the outcome isn’t so magical though, as one family took to Facebook to share. Although with a little Disney Magic even this story has a happy ending!
David Diaz, his wife, Amanda and their two children headed to Magic Kingdom on December 17th to experience some of the magic the holidays bring to the park. After a ride on Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, they came back to stroller parking to discover their stroller was missing. Not only that but since they had their newborn with them the stroller also contained the carseat they would need to get home, their diaper bag filled with essentials and other personal items.
As Diaz shares in his Facebook post, their story is one of how helpful the Cast Members at WDW are. Check out the story in his word:
“First things first, tonight was insane. We were packed like sardines and every cast member was on high alert keeping the peace. My wife and I went because we desperately wanted to see the lighting of the castle. We do it every year and we weren’t going to stop now, even with a newborn. It was of course magical, even with all the crowds. We had a couple FastPasses so we decided we were going to ride The Little Mermaid, grab some food, maybe do something else and leave before the fireworks.
We parked our stroller just outside the ride and low and behold when we came out, it was gone. Our first thought was that a cast member moved it to make some room. We search everywhere we could. No stroller. The first cast member comes into our story. I didn’t catch her name but it was a very nice Asian lady who walked up and down with me to try to put a fresh set of eyes on our search. Still no stroller.
Now we’re getting worried. The car seat was attached and we need that to get home. We also had our diaper bag in there with everything we needed to have happy children. We had jackets, blankets, a Fuelrod to keep our phones charged, everything. The nice Asian lady calls over Max, a supervisor in the area. He suggests that maybe someone took it by accident and brought it back when they realized, so we took another look. We looked all over Fantasyland. Nowhere to be found.
Diapers are getting full. It’s been 30 min. Jax is crying, Ollie is bored. We’re doing everything we can to not punch something. Mac says he’s going to widen his search and another cast member, James from Disney security, steps in.
James looks around again. Nothing. It’s been a little over an hour now. We have not moved from the entrance of the Little Mermaid. Ollie is literally miserable, bored out of his mind. James lets us know that if we go to the baby care center, Disney would be happy to provide some diapers and essentials.
We make the long trek up to the front of the park, inching through the crowds. Low and behold, we explain what happened and the two gentlemen in the shop at the baby care center without hesitation hand us several diapers, cream and wipes. Within a couple minutes, the security officer, James, find us and lets us know that the stroller and its contents are nowhere to be found. Because everything stolen totaled more than $1,000, it’s definitely considered grand theft. He suggests that we go speak to the security manager and file a police report with Orange County.
James escorted us through backstage up to the security office. The next cast member steps in. John is the security manager on duty. We’re in a very dull, blank room where we’re waiting for an officer to arrive. James and John immediately offer us water and coloring activities for Ollie. Because the parks are so busy, John let’s us know that it could be a while before an Orange County officer is available, but that he was going to attempt something. Low and behold, he found an off-duty officer, Officer Collins, who was happy to take my statement and setup our case. He was there within minutes. At this point we haven’t eaten in a while and so John calls down to Food & Bev and works to get us some food.
Meanwhile, if you remember, even after all this gets resolved, we still can’t get home. We have no car seat. Amanda’s brother Richie and his girlfriend, Gabrielle, come to the rescue. They left in a rush from their dinner, while all of this was going on, to run to a Babies r Us and pick up a new car seat.
To our surprise, we finish with the officer quickly and John tells us that he would still be happy to get us some food but that if we wanted to get out from the park quickly, we should leave now before the fireworks end. We decide that’s the best option and make our way back to Transportation & Ticket Center. We hop off the monorail. Richie and Gabrielle are waiting with the car seat, but how in the world are we going to get this thing from the pickup area to our car about 1/2 mile away?!
Our next cast member is here to help. Within minutes, Brandon from transportation security, sees that we’re unloading within a coned off area and realizes that something’s not quite right. He asks if he can help with anything. We explain what happened and why there’s a huge car seat sitting in the pickup area and immediately recognizes our story. Apparently our incident was shared with all the Disney security in the area. He radios for help. Not one, but three cast members come over to see how they can help.
Chuck, another security manager, tries to figure out what our best option is. Savannah and one other cast member hang out with us in the meantime. Chuck makes a phone and boom! Just like that, someone is on their way to pick us up in a Disney SUV to take us and car seat to our car. Then he went above and beyond. He tells us that while we’re waiting, he’d like to buy our kids some gifts from the gift shop as well as get us some refreshments. Ollie picks out a stuffed Mickey for him and a little Pluto for Jax. Ollie has been a trooper this whole time and that little gesture made him so happy. Now Cathy comes into the picture.
Cathy was here to get us through the final stretch our story. The group of cast members load us into the SUV. Cathy very sweetly begins to apologize for everything we went through and escorts us down the tramway to our car. She didn’t drop us off at our row and leave. She very well could have. She took us all the way down to the end of the row where we were parked and waited with Amanda and the kids while I installed the new car seat. She offered to take the box, apologized for everything again and wished us a wonderful night.
The reality is that of course, both Amanda and I are incredibly upset about the whole thing, bit good thing this happened at Disney. Nowhere else could we have had such an incredible experience during such crappy circumstances.
Thank you to all the cast members who did everything they could to brighten our night. You all are amazing. “
But this is a story with a happy ending! A second update was posted and we are so happy for the Diaz family!
“Low and behold we have a happily ever after story. For those of you looking for the who did it and why, you won’t find that here. Just as before, this story is not about us getting our stuff back or the penalties the criminal is facing. This is a story about the detective who worked incredibly hard to solve a crime related to of all things, a stolen stroller. It seems so petty in the grand scheme of things, but he understood how much it meant to us, empathized with us, and did everything he could to help us and bring justice to a crappy situation.
First of all my wife and I are so amazed at the amount of support that we have received from friends, family and absolute strangers. I’m serious when I say, I’ve read through every comment and all I can say is thank you for being so kind and helping me honor those cast members and now this detective in our story.
So here’s the deal, many of you recommended that we keep an eye out on Facebook marketplace, LetGo and so on. Our stroller was stolen on Saturday night and by Monday night…it was not only on Facebook Marketplace…it was everywhere! A good friend of ours found it first and called us immediately. We pulled it up and sure enough. There it was! It even had the little toys we attached to the handlebar of the car seat. We could just cry. But there was a problem.
We called 911 to tell them that we found it, but were told that we would need to wait till the morning. The detectives were not in. This was seriously one of those so close yet so far situations. Ultimately we couldn’t do anything. So we did all we could do. We went to bed and waited.
It’s 8am, Tuesday morning. They’re open now. I called, left a message and waited. Several hours passed by… nothing. Lunch hour came and went…nothing. I’m practically hyperventilating at work and my heart feels like it’s about to burst out of my chest. But finally, the call came. Detective Jessee Hinson, the person assigned to my case, asked lots of questions. I had all the answers, screenshots of the posts, pictures from our phones, even specifics about how I configured the stroller with that specific car seat. We’ve got them. Right?
One small hiccup. None of the things I had were all that unique. Anyone could have bought my exact same setup and built it the same way. Highly unlikely, but possible. We need hard evidence that, that specific stroller and car seat belonged to us. We needed a serial number, or even our names etched into it. Something unique. But we just didn’t have it. All the boxes had been tossed and there was no specific numbers on any of our receipts. It was starring us in the face, but we couldn’t actually prove that it was ours.
And it’s not that Detective Hinson didn’t believe us, but if he tried to recover our property without any hard proof, it simply would not hold up in court and we would lose any chance we had of recovery. He worked with us to try to figure out if we had anything at all that would work. And then Amanda finally came up with a brilliant idea.
What if the serial number for the car seat was also on the base? The part that installs into the car. I rushed out to the car and sure enough, it had a serial number. To make sure that the number would match the actual car seat, we reviewed the numbers on the new car seat and base. Same model. They matched perfectly. Boom! There it was.
Tuesday night. We sent the serial number with pictures over to Detective Hinson and he agreed that this would be the nail in the coffin. And then just like that… It was gone. In big red letters at the beginning of the post. Sold.
We couldn’t believe it. It must be a mistake. Refresh the page. Still sold. Anger. Sadness. Bitterness. It all happened at the same time. What in the world do we do now? How could this have happened? Did we not move fast enough? It felt like it had been stolen from us all over again.
In the meantime, this post is spreading and all we want to do is tell you what’s going on. See if there’s anything YOU can do to help. But we can’t. We know that we need to wait. We send the latest news to the detective and again, just wait.
Wednesday morning. We call. We email. Nothing. We are in disbelief. I finally receive a call from Detective Hinson. In fewer words, he says that he’s doing everything he can and that he has some angles and that’s sort of…it. I wasn’t upset with him. I was just upset in general. Then several hours later, he calls back and asks me the strangest question.
“Do you have the receipt for the new car seat you bought?” I ask him for what, a bit confused. He responds with, “Because I want to make sure that you can return it. We’ve recovered your stuff!” I literally cannot believe what I’m hearing. Let’s back up a smidge and flip the perspective for a moment.
Tuesday night. Detective Hinson received the serial number from the car seat base. He then uses a fake Facebook profile to setup a purchase with the theif/seller. The seller agrees to the sale and marks the product as sold.
Wednesday morning. He knows that I’m freaking out, but he can’t really say anything. It’s an open investigation and things need to be kept private if there’s going to be any chance of a successful operation. He arranges for a place to meet the seller, acquires the stolen property, pays for the stroller and car seat, verifies that the serial numbers match and just like that, it’s all over.
At this point, we’ve arranged a pickup time for the stolen property. I’m incredibly excited to actually meet Detective Hinson. Thank you so much for all the hard work to again, of all things, recover a stroller. It really means so much to us.”
Whew – we love a story with a Happily Ever After! And we’re so glad this family has their belongings back.
Photo credit: Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orlando
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