Thieves steal donations to refugee families

EL CAJON, Calif. -- A group that supports refugee families living in San Diego County is heartbroken after learning someone broke into their storage unit and stole dozens of items they planned to donate to families in need.

Katie Cavallo and Hajar Rochdi-Krim are a part of a social media group that helps refugees living in El Cajon.

“The majority of families we serve or help are from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria,” Rochdi-Krim said.

“I arrived to visit El Cajon refugees about a year and a half ago and discovered just a ton of refugees sleeping on the floor and they had nothing,” Cavallo said.

Volunteers collect new and used furniture, clothes and household supplies to help refugees get on their feet. Most of the items are kept in a Mission Valley storage unit until they are needed. That's where the volunteers made a startling discovery over Mother's Day weekend.

“I arrived Saturday morning and the lockbox was gone,” Cavallo said.

“The moment I unlocked it I just saw everything, a big mess in the middle. It literally looked like an earthquake,” Rochdi-Krim said.

Rochdi-Krim said she was quick to find brand new toys, clothes and shoes meant for refugee children were stolen.

“It was a shot to the heart I think and more than that it was just sad because we’ve been collecting these items for Ramadan, for Eid at the end of Ramadan. So it’s a lot like Christmas. It’s like somebody came in and stole all of the Christmas toys,” Cavallo said.

The volunteers told FOX 5 they are sad, but not angry with the thief.

“We forgive them and we hope that they see us, they see this and have a little remorse in their heart,” Rochdi-Krim said.

The San Diego Police Department is investigating and will be reviewing surveillance video.

The group of volunteers is in a time crunch to replace the stolen items. A GoFundMe page is collecting donations.