FARMINGTON, N.M. — Time is of the essence for the Salvation Army in New Mexico now that the Grinch has thrown a wrench into the group’s holiday toy program.

A van loaded with $6,000 worth of toys set to be passed out to hundreds of children was stolen this week from a store parking lot in Farmington.

“It is a pretty Grinch-like thing to do,” Farmington police spokesperson Nicole Brown told the Farmington Daily Times.

Brown said a detective conducted interviews following Tuesday’s theft and the investigation is ongoing.

Farmington police reached out via Facebook for the public’s help in finding the white minivan.

“Shock, disbelief, just how somebody could do that — especially in a marked vehicle, taking gifts for children,” Lt. Christopher Rockwell with the Salvation Army Farmington Corps told KOB-TV.

Meant for more than 350 kids, the toys were set to be distributed on Dec. 20. Now, the hope is to replace the stolen toys before Monday. Rockwell said the community has already responded in a big way by donating more toys and money.

“The response of the community and what they’re doing is absolutely heartwarming because this area is just so generous and giving here in Farmington and the Four Corners area,” he said.

The Salvation Army operates out of 25 centers around New Mexico and provides church service, food for the hungry and shelter and clothes for the homeless, among other services.

By pauline