Donated gifts meant for children in need were stolen when thieves broke into the Salvation Army's Angel Tree headquarters in Washington, D.C., over the weekend, ripping into 300 bags of toys and gifts, according to the Salvation Army National Capital Area.
The culprits took thousands of dollars in toys, clothes, bicycles and portable electronics, such as MP3 players and tablets, the Salvation Army said. While they were leaving, they dropped a bag, damaging several Kindles inside, News4's Mark Segraves reported.
All the items were intended for D.C.-area recipients of the Angel Tree program, which collects gifts, toys and clothes for children in need. A laptop belonging to the organization was also stolen.
The Salvation Army said there were slightly more than 5,000 bags in the warehouse at the time of the break-in, and they've identified 300 individual bags from which items were taken. They're now conducting an inventory of the entire warehouse.
D.C. police arrested at least two suspects Saturday, the Salvation Army said. Police said they are searching for others and attempting to recover the stolen items.
The organization has been left scrambling but vows to replace the gifts in time for distribution to more than 2,500 local families -- about 6,000 children -- scheduled for Thursday.
At Winterfest Sunday, the Washington Nationals collected items to replace some of the stolen gifts.
Wal-Mart donated $20,000 to the organization to help make up for the losses, the Salvation Army announced Monday. The Salvation Army plans to use the donation, and any others, to replace the stolen gifts and pay for extra security at its storage facility.
"We are less than six days from the start of The Salvation Army's Angel Tree distribution to families in need," Maj. Lewis R. Reckline, commander for Salvation Army National Capital Area, said over the weekend. "We will now need to replace all stolen and unrecovered gifts in time for our Christmas gift distribution on Dec. 17."
Reckline said the Salvation Army will make sure the holidays are bright for D.C. children in need. Donors can help offset the loss by donating to the Red Kettles or online at www.SalvationArmyNCA.org.
The Salvation Army has now hired 24-hour security for the warehouse and added an additional alarm system.
NBC4 is a proud sponsor of the Angel Tree program in Washington.