Long Island Charity Robbed of Money for Children's Holiday Gifts - NBC New York

Long Island Charity Robbed of Money for Children's Holiday Gifts



    Police are looking for suspects in connection with a theft at the Lighthouse Mission in Bellport. Investigators say cash and gift cards that were supposed to go towards buying gifts for children were stolen. Greg Cergol reports. (Published Monday, Dec. 3, 2012)

    Police on Long Island are hunting the Grinch who broke into a Bellport charity and stole cash and gift cards collected to buy holiday toys for needy kids.

    "Maybe they don't know the true meaning of Christmas," said pastor Jim Ryan, the head of the nonprofit Lighthouse Mission.
    About $1,000 in cash and store gift cards were taken from the mission's office Saturday night or early Sunday morning, according to Suffolk County police.
    The thief or thieves smashed a window on a rear door and then ransacked the office, even prying open a safe that contained only $3, Ryan said.  The money and gift cards were taken from a desk.
    "Everything God gives us, we give it away anyway so all they would have needed to do was come in and ask us and we would have blessed them," Ryan said.  
    For the last 20 years, the Lighthouse Mission has served primarily as a food pantry. Each year, the charity also offers holiday gifts to parents with financial trouble. In a typical year, toys are provided to over 400 children, according to Ryan.
    "It's sad to know that someone would break into an organization like Lighthouse Mission that exists solely to serve," Ryan said.
    Investigators are not sure if one or more people were involved, said Suffolk Police Detective Lt. Edward Reilly.  
    "That's why we are asking anyone with information on the robbery to call us," he said.  
    The mission's office was being cleaned the night of the robbery and according to Ryan, its alarm system was never activated.
    "We have already forgiven whoever did this," Ryan said.  
    Meanwhile, help has begun to arrive.  
    Brookhaven resident John Knapp stopped at the mission Monday afternoon bearing gifts. He delivered clothing and replacement gift cards after hearing of the robbery.
    "These are volunteers who give their time to help people who could use the help," Knapp said.  "It's just a sad thing."
    The Lighthouse Mission still plans to deliver toys Dec. 19.  If you would like to give, contact the charity through its website.