Deaf girl’s hearing device stolen in burglary at CA school; deputies offer gifts, support

CASTRO VALLEY, CA (KGO/CNN) - A 7-year-old in California says she’s “super angry” at the thieves who stole her hearing device from her school, but despite it all, a surprise visit from deputies helped make her day.

Alicia Lyding, 7, uses a hearing device called a Phonak that attaches to her hearing aids and is essential for the first grader to be able to hear her teacher clearly. But on April 7, burglars stole the device along with field trip money from Independent School in Castro Valley, CA.

"It’s the way that she can have a direct line of communication with the teacher to take in information,” said Alicia’s mother, Meghan Lyding.

Alicia Lyding, who is deaf and didn’t speak until she was 5 years old, uses a hearing device called a Phonak that attaches to her hearing aids and is essential for the first grader to be able to hear her teacher clearly. (Source: KGO/CNN)
Alicia Lyding, who is deaf and didn’t speak until she was 5 years old, uses a hearing device called a Phonak that attaches to her hearing aids and is essential for the first grader to be able to hear her teacher clearly. (Source: KGO/CNN) (Source: KGO/CNN)

Alicia, who is deaf and didn’t speak until she was 5 years old, says the fact that someone took her device made her “super angry, like, mad.”

The theft also hit home for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, where investigators knew chances of recovering the device would be slim.

"Most of us are parents, and a lot of us have kids the same age as Ali, so we can relate,” Sgt. Raymond Kelly said.

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Posted by Alameda County Sheriff's Office on Saturday, April 13, 2019

So, Kelly and his fellow deputies surprised the 7-year-old with gifts, including a Disney “Frozen” doll set and toy sheriff’s office badges. They also offered support, letting Alicia know they were working hard on her case to bring the suspect to justice.

"It was amazing, just amazing, to have that sort of community support. People really get it, and they really care,” Alicia’s mom said. “To meet them was a dream come true. When she gets older, she wants to be a police officer girl.”

Lyding says she’s received offers from others to replace the $1,500 Phonak device. However, Alicia’s school is in the process of replacing it.

Deputies say the investigation into the burglary, part of a string of break-ins in the area, is ongoing.

Copyright 2019 KGO, Phonak, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office via CNN. All rights reserved.