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Police played Santa on Christmas Day for a boy whose mother is suspected of stealing his gift and selling it to feed her cocaine habit.

Annie Smith Lacy said she had bought a Sony Playstation for her 8-year-old grandson. It was gift-wrapped and tucked under the tree when his mother, who does not have custody of the boy, came to visit just a few days before Christmas.

When the boy ripped open the present on Christmas morning while Ms. Lacy stood ready with her camera, he found the Playstation was gone, replaced in the box by some of his books.

"When he saw what happened, his whole expression changed," Ms. Lacy said. "He was so sad. I don't understand how she could do that."

In an effort to force her daughter to deal with her addiction, Ms. Lacy called police and reported the theft.

Police at the Dorchester station were so moved, they took up a collection, raising $130 to buy Rashad Smith a new Playstation.

"It was a situation the officers couldn't turn away from," Boston police spokesman Jerry Vanderwood said. The 28-year-old mother could not be located for comment.

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