Moses Lake man returns stolen Christmas money, apologizes

UPDATE: Moses Lake Police reported Tuesday that the man who stole Christmas money from a local family had a change of heart after he saw the story on social media.

Viktor Kunayev contacted the police department and said he wanted to give the money back. He came to the police department and returned a "sizable amount" of cash according to Moses Lake Police. Police say there is still some disagreement on exactly how much money was taken, it was a good chunk that was returned.

Kunayev expressed remorse for his bad decision, and said this is not typical of the way he lives his life.

Officers thanked Kunayev for taking responsibility for his actions and taking steps to make it right.

"While we would prefer people not steal in the first place, a sincere effort to rectify past mistakes is always appreciated," police said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Previous coverage:

Despite the Grinch’s best effort, Moses Lake Officers saved Christmas for a family. Two days before Christmas, a Moses Lake woman lost her purse at a grocery store. When she returned to the store to pick it up, she was missing a large amount of cash. According to police, the woman had set aside the money for food and Christmas presents for her four children.

After the theft was reported, Moses Lake Police Officers Ramirez and Dodson were able to work with the grocery store to review video. The suspect was quickly identified as 35 year-old Viktor “The Grinch” Kunayev, an employee of the store. Kunayev was fired from the store, and charges will be filed for the theft.

Officers Ramirez and Dodson are dads, and couldn’t bear the thought of a ruined Christmas for four kids, so they went to work.

Moses Lake Police says their officers were able to secure some unused money from the Shop with a Cop program, and used it to purchase a bicycle and several other Christmas gifts for the children, aged 14, 12, 6 and 5 years old. The officers then obtained three more bicycles that had been donated to the department by the local Plumbers and Steamfitters Union 598. The officers even enlisted the clerical staff to help wrap the presents, since cops aren’t known for their crafting skills.

Lastly, the officers contacted the Moses Lake Food Bank and made an emergency request for food on behalf of the family. The Food Bank came through in a big way, delivering a couple weeks worth of food for the family.

We would like to thank Officer Ramirez, Officer Dodson, The Moses Lake Food Bank and the local Plumbers and Steamfitters Union 598 for their efforts to ensure that the Grinch didn’t win, and these kids had a merry Christmas.