Toys for Tots Investigation Continues
Burlington Police and the Massachusetts State Police continue to search for $15,000 in donated toys.
The Massachusetts State Police and the Burlington Police Department are still investigating the theft of 1,500 toys, estimated at a value of $15,000 from a Toys for Tots bin in Burlington over the weekend.
According to police, evidence suggests the toys were stolen between 2:30 and 6 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18. Police found signs of forced entry into the locked POD that was located at 63 South Avenue, with evidence suggesting that a tool or other implement was used. The toys were being stored in preparation for sorting and distribution for the Holidays.
On Monday night Burlington Police Chief Michael Kent said no new developments had been made but that police are working diligently to find the culprit or culprits. So far Police have not named any potential suspects.
The State Police are also continuing to investigate the crime. Colonel Marian J. McGovern, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, said in a press briefing Monday morning at the State Police Headquarters in Framingham, that the investigation would continue. She called on the public to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity that may be linked to the theft.
"We're asking the public to keep their eyes and ears open and let the police know if you see something happening out of the ordinary," she said. "If anyone sees someone with a truck selling toys at a ridiculously low rate, call the police."
McGovern said the toys that were stolen were for children ages 8 and up. These toys are normally more technical and expensive.
McGovern said this theft is hitting the police, and her, especially hard. The State Police, teaming with the U.S. Marines, have been collecting toys and this year the State Police partnered with Toys R Us to try and raise donations during a difficult economy. McGovern said the theft left her feeling "depressed, horrified and very, very angry " that something like this could happen "in the wake of all the hard work the volunteers do and the gracious people — people that can't afford much for themselves but went out of their way to help and donate to a needy child."
McGovern added that as part of the toy drive, members of the State Police went to Toys R Us locations to help drum up support. She told the story of one elderly coupled who came out of the store with two carts full of toys and brought them right over to her and the other members of the force that were collecting gifts.
"They said to me that they weren't blessed by children of their own but they wanted to bless children who couldn't have a Christmas," she said. "Those are the stories we heard over and over again and they are symbolic of the generosity of the people out there."
"Then to have this despicable thing happen is disgusting in my opinion," she added.
Perhaps as a sign that good people will always come through, a woman carrying bags full of toys entering police headquarters, suddenly interrupted the briefing.
The impromptu Santa was Winthrop resident Sophia McCormick, who had spent the morning shopping for toys to help make up for some of those that were stolen. McCormick made two trips to her car, eventually bringing in 10 bags and one box full of toys.
When asked why she decided to make such a generous donation, McCormick said she had heard the news the night before while wrapping gifts for her children and knew she couldn't sit by and do nothing.
"It broke my heart to see that someone could do that," she said, tears in her eyes. "I just hope this puts a smile on someone's face."
Reports of similar acts of kindness have come in across the state. Though the official end of the Toys for Tots drive was last Friday, the State Police have extended the deadline until tonight at 6 p.m.
Donors may bring toys or a check to any State Police Barracks or to State Police General Headquarters at 470 Worcester Road in Framingham. Checks should be made payable to Toys for Tots.
If anyone is interested in making a donation, they can do so at the following locations that may be more convenient than Framingham.
- Burlington Fire Department: (Until noon Tuesday) Located at 21 Center Street. Phone: 781-270-1925
- Medford State Police Barracks: Located at 520 Fellsway, Medford, MA 12155. Telephone: 978-396-0100
- Concord State Police Barracks: Located on Elm Street in Concord, MA 01742. Telephone: 978-369-4100.
- Revere State Police Barracks: Located at 220 Revere Beach Blvd. Revere, MA 021151. Telephone: 781-284-0038
- The Starbucks at 1660-1670 Soldiers Field Road, Brighton, MA 02135. Telephone: 617-782-1325
Anyone with any information about the theft or who has suspicions about a sudden presence of a large quantity of toys is asked is asked to contact Burlington Police Department at (781) 270-1914 or Massachusetts State Police at (508) 820-2121.
Also, watch the video of McGovern's briefing here.