Polk deputies identify ‘Grinch’ who stole Lakeland family’s Christmas presents from under a tree

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The man suspected of breaking into the Lakeland home where a single mother lives with her two young daughters and stealing their Christmas presents has been identified, but Polk County detectives are still looking for him.

Earlier this week, the sheriff’s office released surveillance footage of the man, who was unknown at the time. On Thursday, they said the suspect was 28-year-old Raheim Jamaar Johnson, whose nickname is “City.”

“Our Grinch was tagged by someone who wanted some extra cash for Christmas,” according to a statement from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. “A warrant has been obtained for Johnson. Now we just have to find him.”

The burglary took place on Dec. 20 around 7:30 a.m. Within 20 minutes, Johnson broke down the front door and entered the home, Sheriff Grady Judd said.

“He’s a Grinch,” the sheriff said Tuesday. “We always have to have one, don’t we? Obviously this guy has eggnog for a brain because we have video of him breaking into this house.”

Inside, surveillance cameras were rolling. Detectives said Johnson stole the mother’s television, laptop and gifts intended for her two daughters, aged 8 and 11.

The suspect was seen stealing the presents from under the tree and “sneaking” past plastic sheets hanging inside the house. The sheriff said the family was having work done on the home. He said neighbors may not have reported seeing him since workers were coming in and out of the house during the project.

Provided by Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Outside, surveillance cameras were also working and capturing video of his vehicle, described as a newer model, dark-colored four-door vehicle.

Crime Stoppers will offer $2,500 for information that leads to an arrest. Tips can be sent by calling (800) 226-8477

In the meantime, Judd said Polk Sheriff Charities will help replace stolen gifts for children.

“They are going to wake up on Christmas Day with a wonderful Christmas present.”

According to the state Department of Corrections, Johnson was released from prison in February 2020. He was convicted of assaulting a first responder in Polk County in September 2018. He was sentenced in September 2019 He had previously been arrested for burglary and grand larceny in 2011 in Polk County. In Hillsborough County, he was arrested for robbery in 2014.

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