State and Burlington police are hunting a picky thief or thieves -- with no Christmas spirit -- who broke into a storage container early Saturday and stole 1,500 toys collected for the Toys for Tots program that provides needy children with holiday gifts.
"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,'' State Police Colonel Marian J. McGovern said in a statement.
State Police said in a statement tonight that the container was stored outside a well-lit warehouse facility in Burlington and that the container was broken into sometime between 2 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
After forcing their way in, the thief or thieves sorted through the toys and selected only those suitable for children eight years or old, and those that are valued at between $15 and $30 each, State Police said. A total of 1,500 toys valued at $15,000 was taken, State Police said.
A second container, holding toys donated to State Police, was attacked but was not broken into, police said. State Police have joined with the US Marine Corps for the last 26 years collecting toys for the program
"Both (storage containers) have been secured and will be processed for potential physical evidence by State and Burlington Police,'' State Police said.
The Toys for Tots donation period ended Friday. Even if they got replacement toys, organizers likely would not have enough time to collect, sort and distribute the toys to charities who then provide them directly to clients, State Police said.
However, State Police will accept any toys dropped off at any of their barracks. Checks made out to Toys for Tots may also be dropped off.
Anyone with any information about the theft or who has suspicions about a sudden presence of a large quantity of toys is asked is asked to contact Burlington Police Department at (781) 270-1914 or Massachusetts State Police at (508) 820-2121.