Christmas burglar sentenced to prison

Venus Hernandez

GALLIPOLIS — A Gallia County woman who broke into a home early Christmas morning and made off with wrapped gifts and a vehicle was sentenced to two years in prison last week.

Venus Hernandez, 39, of the 100 block of Hubbard Avenue, Gallipolis, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree felony burglary in Gallia County Common Pleas Court. As part of Hernandez’s plea, she was immediately sentenced to two years in prison in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Along with burglary, Hernandez also faced a fourth-degree felony stolen property charge.

According to a copy of the complaint obtained by the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, a resident of the home in the 600 block of Second Avenue was awakened by a disturbance in the house at about 3 a.m. Christmas Day. After searching through the house, the resident discovered that someone had “forcibly entered” the home. The resident also discovered that a TV set, several Christmas presents and an Xbox 360 game console were missing.

At about the time the resident had discovered the missing items, he reportedly witnessed his vehicle — a 2001 Pontiac Aztek — leaving the driveway.

The complaint also says a newspaper carrier later reported Hernandez allegedly loading property from the home into the vehicle in front of the residence.

“After being startled, the family discovered that someone had ransacked their home and stolen all of their Christmas gifts out from under the Christmas tree and had even went through their refrigerator and stolen food,” Gallia County Assistant Prosecutor Britt Wiseman said. “The family immediately called 911 and the Gallipolis Police Department responded immediately to begin their investigation, which included searching for the victim’s stolen vehicle.”

The vehicle was later found by the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office. It was in the parking lot of Skyline Lanes on Ohio 7 North, where it had been abandoned, according to police.

“Evidence inside the vehicle and Christmas wrapping paper located along the roadway led law enforcement to the Bidwell area,” Wiseman said. “During the investigation, it was discovered that Ms. Hernandez had taken the Christmas presents she had stolen from the victim’s residence and used them to pay off debts she had to other people.”

While investigating the burglary, Gallipolis police interviewed several witnesses who, according to the complaint, saw Hernandez at a home in Gallipolis a short time after the incident and in possession of the Xbox 360 and other property, as well as the stolen vehicle. She was arrested Dec. 27 on an outstanding warrant through Gallipolis Municipal Court.

According to the complaint, Hernandez allegedly told investigators that she had been depressed and drinking heavily, and blacked out during the time of the burglary. The complaint also states Hernandez admitted to waking up near where the stolen vehicle was recovered.

“The victims in this case had one of the most joyous days of the year, Christmas Day, turned completely upside down because of this defendant and her actions,” Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins said. “(Hernandez) made the decision to get drunk and to wreak havoc on an innocent family by stealing Christmas presents that were meant for family and friends. Prison is consistent with (her) abhorrent behavior that she displayed on Christmas Day.”

Adkins credited law enforcement with ensuring Hernandez was “apprehended swiftly” in helping to bring closure to the case.