BAY SHORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Volunteers on Long Island have worked for months to host toy drives and collect for needy children, but just days before the gifts were to be delivered, a Grinch burglar did his best to try to spoil the season.

The volunteers counted what was left only to realize dozens of large boxes filled with hundreds of toys for the children were missing, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reports.

“I know a lot of kids out there need it and one toy makes a difference,” Jose Gonzalez, at New York Auto Detailing, said.

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Suffolk Police are looking for a burglar who they say broke into a Bay Shore auto repair shop overnight this week, where donated gifts were being stored. They were going to be delivered in a white van, which was also vandalized.

“It really didn’t have to be this way. If he came to us and said that he needed help, we would have helped him anyway. People come here, they pick up food, they pick up all different items, so,” said Erik Matthews, of Erik’s Plumbing and Heating. “He didn’t have to break in and take toys from children that are in desperate need.”

It’s a tradition in the Bay Shore/Brentwood community. They begin collecting just after Halloween to give to the kids. The groups are organized and led by a trio of adults. They sort and distribute the donations to school kids during Christmas week.

“The community has always come together every single time we have any type of function, the community comes together and always donates,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Amee Hernandez, a toy drive volunteer.

The children count on it year after year.

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Police are seeking the public’s help. Volunteers say they’re not giving up and will continue collecting until the New Year. The group will be holding a toy drive fundraiser at the auto detailing shop Saturday.

Shortly after CBS2’s first story aired at noon, viewers and well-wishers came by to donate replacement gifts.

If you would like to help out, toy donations can be dropped off at 11 Madison Ave. and 220 Brentwood Road in Bay Shore.

  1. Edita Wong says:

    Erik Matthews of Erik Matthews Plumbing and heating was recently featured on News 12 Long Island as having theft of hundreds of toys collected toys for low income kids stolen. However, I the police and News 12 need to do more investigation. Mr. Matthews is an ex-con, who owes a lot of people hundreds of thousands of dollars. He has not filed tax returns regularly in 10 years. The fact that his “Santa’s bag” of toys mysteriously disappeared is probably not a coincidence. More than a handful of people would bet “The Grinch” is actually none other than Matthews himself staging a robbery in order to swindle more people out of even more money. Even the clip of “surveillance video” showing the perpetrator leaving the area looks like Matthews himself and there is nothing in his hands. Look more closely SCPD and News 12. You owe it to the people of Long Island who are giving more and more money to this con man to dig deeper.

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