MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – A Dos Palos market was out thousands of dollars in damages along with hundreds in donations meant to help sick children after a man broke through the window and burglarized the store.
Around 10:15 Sunday night cameras at State Foods Supermarket showed the suspect throwing a car jack through the window and breaking in. He was in and out in a matter of seconds.
Claudia Castaneda said he snatched two jars at the front registers filled with cash they were raising for Valley Children’s Hospital.
“They come in, they bring a few canisters for donations, and then once it’s full they come and pick them up. We do this every year to just try and help out,” she said.
Castaneda said on top of stealing the full donation jars, which had about $300 between them, the estimate to repair the damage to the front window is $7,000 to $8,000.
She said she does not recognize the suspect as anyone who has been in the store previously but several employees did see him the day of the theft possibly casing the supermarket.
“He had been here since three of four. He stayed in the parking lot for an hour or two. He came back at five, stayed an hour or two, and then again came back at night,” Castaneda said.
Police were still at the store collecting evidence Monday and said they’re also on the lookout for the black Jeep Wrangler the suspect was driving.
Castaneda said they collect money for children once or twice a year and this is the first time there’s ever been an issue.
“It’s pretty sad that somebody would just go out of their way to steal from kids, which the purpose was helping them out, not taking advantage of them,” she said.
Police collected the surveillance video, and are working to identify the suspect. They are asking anyone who has information to contact Officer Chavez at (209) 392-2176.