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AKRON, Ohio — They were supposed to be helping, but instead, Akron police say they were helping themselves.

Police are investigating after thieves posed as volunteers to steal thousands of toys from Toys for Tots.

“Right now, we have over 15,000 children in Summit County and the surrounding areas. It means a lot, for some of the kids, this is all they have,” said Traci Higgenbottom-Williams, director.

Williams has run the program in Akron for 20 years but what happened late Monday night is a first.

She says the thieves signed up as volunteers so they could steal thousands of toys.

“This is our first year we opened it up to volunteers; usually we have a small staff that does this. Around 10:40 at night, I noticed some things were gone that shouldn’t have been gone,” said Williams.

Surveillance cameras were rolling outside the First Faith Development Corporation on Easter Avenue as the men stole bags upon bags and even boxes of toys and took them out the back door.

“It tears me up. Because this process just doesn’t start in December. I start in January to make sure the kids get the best. I don’t give them anything I wouldn’t give my kids when they were small. So when you take from them, it hurts me. Makes me angry,” said Williams.

Williams says the loss is estimated at $5,000.

But the loss is so much more.

“Because you stole from kids who did nothing to you. They are innocent. They are our future and we are trying to help them, encourage them and be a blessing to them and you are robbing that from them,” said Williams.

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