Stolen trailer full of toys recovered in Sunrise

Trailer containing toys for children with cancer stolen in North Miami

By Erica Rakow - Reporter

SUNRISE, Fla. - A stolen trailer containing toys intended for children with cancer was recovered late Monday night in Sunrise.

It's a huge sigh of relief for Sylvia Vanni, who is the co-founder of the Mystic Force Foundation.

The trailer used by the organization was stolen from her driveway at her North Miami home early Monday morning. Vanni took to social media and created fliers, desperately hoping someone would come forward. 

Tips led police to a home in Sunrise, where they found the trailer and many of the toys, valued at $20,000. The rest of the toys were found by Wednesday morning.

"When we arrived there, the toys were not in the trailer, but we waited until about 2:30 in the morning when Sunrise police obtained a search warrant for a shed that's in the backyard," Vanni told Local 10 News. "When we opened the shed, the majority of the toys were there."

 

The Mystic Force Foundation helps raise money for cancer research. It also collects toys for children who are undergoing cancer treatment. Vanni made her mission to help children with cancer after losing her own son, who died of stage 4 neuroblastoma. 

"My heart just sank," Vanni said. "This is my life, is taking care of these kids and trying to make them as happy as possible while they're going through treatment, as well as trying to find a cure for them, and for somebody just to drive away with what I work so hard for these kids, it's overwhelming."

Sunrise police arrested Dudley Merus, 30, and Endy Merus, 25, on Tuesday morning. They face charges of grand theft.

"I don't think they knew what they were stealing, but I think once they opened it up and they saw the toys and they saw all the Mystic Force and childhood cancer everywhere, I don't know how it didn't touch their hearts and (make them) realize that they're stealing from kids with cancer," Vanni said. "And I don't know how anybody could be that heartless."

Vanni said the toys will be given to children who are battling cancer during the next Mystic Force event in May at Nicklaus Children's Hospital.

Dudley and Endy Merus bonded out of jail Tuesday afternoon.

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