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Japan donation box stolen at North Hollywood store

April 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The disaster in Japan touched the hearts of so many that a North Hollywood business started collecting donations for the victims.

On Monday, in the blink of an eye all that money was stolen. Surveillance video captured by cameras at the store, Desks Etc, 4 Less, shows a man scoping out items in the store before grabbing a donation box and shoving it under his shirt and taking off.

The donation box had a big sign attached to it that read "Relief International Japan Relief." Serena Blum is the store owner and said she and her staff started raising money for the effort soon after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

They sat the box on the counter near the cash register for customers to contribute to the effort. They had raised $50 and wanted to raise a lot more until the box was stolen.

"It is heart breaking what they going through over there," said Blum. "You can't help, but to try and help. I think it represents more than $50."

"We know that he was in here to steal," said employee Marissa Lopez. "We know he was determined to take something. He didn't have a heart. We had a big sign that said 'Japanese Relief Fund.' I know it's a little bit of money but it's whatever we can do."

"It's ugly," said North Hollywood resident Shirley Depas. "I don't understand how people can do it."

Blum said her business has been raising money for relief efforts such as the tsunami in Thailand, hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti for seven years. No one has ever stolen the donation box until now.

"This is not going to keep me from continuing with my charity work," said Blum. "But this time it will be bolted down and locked so it doesn't happen again."

The business has filed a police report of the incident.