msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 12/2/2009 12:57:29 PM ET 2009-12-02T17:57:29

Thieves in Orange County stole $100,000 in toys and food donated to the poor, leaving an agency scrambling to recover just 24 days before Christmas.

Sgt. James Colgrove said crooks broke into an underground storage facility in Garden Grove over the weekend. They took an estimated 20,000 pounds of food and about $25,000 worth of toys that were donated to the United Labor Agency of Orange County.

Colgrove says the goods were being collected for homeless families and those whose breadwinners recently lost jobs.

"There are going to be a lot of homeless and underprivileged children and families who are going to go without," Colgrove told The Orange County Register.

Colgrove told the California newspaper that detectives believe the heist happened between Friday and Monday morning. Employees were being interviewed to determine how someone could haul away the huge load without being noticed, the newspaper reported.

A grill from the agency's storage facility and items donated for a raffle also were taken.

An employee discovered the theft Monday morning.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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