$15K in toys stolen from Mass. charity
The theft hit home with state police, who helped collect toys for Toys for Tots for the 26th consecutive year, assisting the Marines with collecting them across the state
By Robert Mills
The Lowell Sun
BURLINGTON, Mass. — Grinch would be too kind a word for whoever is responsible for this.
State police said Sunday that amid one of the most financially trying Christmas seasons in recent memory, thieves broke into a locked storage container and stole an estimated $15,000 worth of toys destined for the Toys for Tots program.
And because of the timing of the theft, it will likely be impossible to replace many of the stolen toys by Christmas even if more donations come in.
Police said it appears the toys were stolen Saturday morning between 2:30 and 6, when thieves forced their way into a locked storage container in a well-lit lot outside a Burlington warehouse.
There were signs of forced entry, indicating some kind of tool was used to break the lock, and investigators found signs the thieves tried to get into a second container full of toys at the scene.
It also appears the thieves sorted through the toys, setting aside cheaper toys and taking only those valued at $15 to $30, and those for children ages 8 and up.
About 1,500 toys were taken, and a Toys for Tots program coordinator estimated the value of the toys at about $15,000.
The theft hit home with state police, who helped collect toys for Toys for Tots for the 26th consecutive year, assisting the Marines with collecting them across the state.
Once collected, the toys are given to nonprofit agencies and churches who distribute them to the needy.
Karen Frederick, executive director of Community Teamwork Inc. in Lowell, which serves about 50,000 people per year, said Sunday night she was not sure if some of the toys were destined for local residents.
Frederick said her agency, one of many across the state that distribute the toys collected by the Toys for Tots program, already received one shipment of toys last week.
Frederick said the timing could not be worse, though.
"The need is huge this year," she said. "We've not seen it like this in a very long time. It has really been a difficult season."
Making matters worse is that the Toys for Tots donation period ended Friday, and because of the time it takes to collect and distribute all the toys, it is unlikely any new donations will make it to families by Christmas.
"This is a despicable crime against the generous people who donated these toys and against the hundreds of children in need who would have received these gifts and who now will not," said State Police Superintendent Marian McGovern. "The state police and the Burlington police will do everything we can to find out who did this and try to recover the toys."
Even though more toy donations might not make it to children by Christmas, state police said additional donations will still be appreciated, and can be dropped off at any state police barracks. Monetary donations can also be made in the form of checks payable to Toys for Tots.
Copyright 2010 MediaNews Group, Inc.