Thieves swipe tires from car parked at Ronald McDonald House - KMSP-TV

Tires stolen from car parked at Ronald McDonald House

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

A Minnesota family who would much rather focus on the health of an ailing child is now wondering who would steal from a cash-strapped family receiving help from the Ronald McDonald House.

UPDATE: Twin Cities rallies to help after tire heist

The Charging family says there can be no doubt that the thieves knew what they were doing given where the crime occurred. For decades, the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis has provided free shelter and food to families who have sick children in need of medical care -- and that's why one such family was shocked to find their tires had been stripped away in the parking lot there.

"I've never seen anything like this," Kelly Charging-Hatlen admitted. "Makes me sad, really sad."

On Wednesday morning, Charging-Hatlen found her mother's car had been jacked of all four tires and left sitting on blocks, stalled at the end of a long road her family has been traveling since June 2012 when Charging brought her one-month-old Cash to the Twin Cities from Fargo, ND, with a mysterious illness.

"[Without the Ronald McDonald House,] I probably wouldn't be able to be with my son," Charging-Hatlen said. "I wouldn't be able to sit with him every day and pray with him and hold his hand. I honestly don't think he would be here."

Nearly two full years later, Charging-Hatlen continues making daily trips from the Ronald McDonald House to Children's Hospital to see her son. This month, however, Champion delivered Jamison and needed help with the newborn. So, she asked her mother to drive from North Dakota to lend a hand -- but grandma needed new tires to make the trip. The financially-strapped family scrounged together the $1,200 it took, and they were grateful to have them.

"It's been such a Godsend for us, that we were able to pull off getting these tires," Charging-Hatlen said.

Now, Charging-Hatlen describes the loss as a "kick in the teeth," and she wishes she could ask the crooks why.

"What in your life has happened that you feel like you need to rob families of sick children?" Charging-Hatlen asked. "What happened to you that broke you that badly?"

For an organization that is used to seeing the community step up to support the families staying there, the theft feels like a blow.

"It's really disappointing that a couple of knuckleheads in our midst can do something so devastating to a family going through this kind of crisis," CEO John Stanoch said. "They should be ashamed of themselves."

Stanoch is also calling for the thieves to do the right thing and return the tires.

"Bring the tires back, turn yourself into police, and beg for forgiveness," he urged. "That's your only play here. You've done something horribly wrong. Do the right thing."

As for Charging-Hatlen, she said she is finding it hard to follow her mother's advice.

"My mom always says, 'When someone steals from you, they obviously need it more than you do and you need to pray for them ' -- but not here," she said. "This is sacred ground."

With the tires and damage done to the vehicle all tallied up, Charging-Hatlen says it will take thousands to fix the vehicle.

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