More than $7,000 in items for the homeless stolen from Lake Elsinore nonprofit

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (KABC) -- A nonprofit group is trying to recoup more than $7,000 in donations intended for the homeless following a break-in at its office in Lake Elsinore.

Surveillance video shows a Chevrolet pickup truck pull into the business parking lot where Social Work Action Group (SWAG) is located early Monday morning. Moments later, two men and a woman then exit the vehicle and begin casing the store fronts.

The trio burglarized three businesses including the nonprofit.

"It is heart-wrenching and we can't even describe what we feel," said Monica Sapien with Social Work Action Group.

The thieves smashed the glass door to the office and carried away food gift cards, medical supplies and boxes of Christmas donations.

Many of the items taken help with the nonprofit's outreach program, which targets some of the toughest homeless populations in Riverside County's mid and southwest region.

"Those donated items that we use every day in our work - that's what was taken from this office," said Aaron Petorff.

Petorff estimates since opening its doors in 2017 SWAG has helped 419 people exit the streets.

The organization relies on the community to help with its efforts and the items stolen came at the worst possible time for them.

"Saturday we had a donation drive from a couple of churches. So we had a lot of donated items stacked up here we were going to break down for distribution and that was clearly gone," said Petorff.

Despite the hit, SWAG is hoping it will still be able to provide to the people they serve on a daily basis with a little help from the community.

"We are relying on all our community partners and community members to hopefully step up and help us restock for Christmas," said Sapien.

Information about donating to help SWAG is available here on the organization's website.
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