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$300 reward for heartbroken girl’s stolen blanket

Updated: December 5, 2012 6:33AM

PINGREE GROVE — If you broke into a blue 2001 Chevy Impala in Elgin’s Otter Creek Shopping Center parking lot on Oct. 27 and stole a gray and blue baby blanket, that’s now worth $300 to you.

And if you are totally innocent and happened to find that same blanket along the road somewhere, it’s worth $300 to you, too.

“I wish they had stolen the car and left behind that blanket,” said Chris Lunacek of Maple Park, who owns the car. The blanket belongs to his 18-year-old daughter, Victoria Lunacek of Pingree Grove, and its theft has upset her so much that Dad is offering a $300 reward, no questions asked, to whoever brings it back.

“She takes that blanket everywhere she goes and has all her life,” Chris said Friday. “It’s like her good-luck charm. But the luck ran out. Since it disappeared, she cries every day.”

Victoria, a recent Burlington Central High School grad who will start Elgin Community College in January, said she works at the Fashion Bug store at the shopping center, which is along Randall Road near Route 20 in Elgin. She drove her dad’s car to work there on Saturday. Between 8:45 and 9:30 p.m., somebody smashed the parked car’s front passenger-side window in an effort to steal her purse.

Victoria thinks the intruder was just reaching in to go through her stuff when the car alarm started blasting and scared him off.

Her purse had been stored on the floor, hidden underneath the precious baby blanket. The burglar took the purse but apparently held it upside down in his rush. He spilled out a scattering of cosmetics and Victoria’s iPod and even her wallet with money inside, leaving those scattered all over the car seat and the nearby pavement. But the thief did get away with the purse, with a camera she had inside it — and, for reasons no one can quite figure out, with the blanket that had been covering it.

“We can’t remember who gave the blanket to us, but we have pictures of me with it in the crib,” Victoria said. “I have always slept with it, and I would take it everywhere I went. When I was in middle school, I would carry it in my backpack. When I started driving to high school, I would leave it out in the car.

“When I was little, I used to call it ‘my blankie nosie,’ ” Victoria said. “There was one corner that I especially loved and would rub against my face. Luckily, that corner fell off about four years ago, so I still have that, saved in a jar.”

Chris said that after the car burglary was discovered, he went to the shopping center and searched around nearby ponds, roadsides and garbage cans in case the thief had thrown it away. But he couldn’t find it.

He realizes that the most likely person to bring the beloved piece of fluff back is the person who stole it. But that’s OK, he said. “I will smile at the thief and hand him the reward money. I just want this blanket back. It hurts so much to see your daughter suffer.”

Anyone with the blanket should call Chris Lunacek at 630-643-9999.

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