AKRON, OH (WOIO) - Traci Higginbottom-Williams, Director of First Faith Corp., says she knows two of the crooks masquerading as volunteers caught on video stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of toys from the Toys for Tots drive in Akron.
Traci joined forces with the U.S. Marine Corps a decade ago after someone kicked in the back door of her home and took toys meant for her three children.
The community came to rescue her family then, and now she’s giving back by helping collect toys for more than 15,000 impoverished Akron kids.
“We sent out an SOS asking for help for people to help come sort toys and pack toys,” explained Traci.
“On the 10th we had an overwhelming response and we had a whole bunch of people here and we had a couple of volunteers sign in that turned out to be thieves.”
Traci says she actually went to school with one of the thieves. She recognized another one who used to frequent her internet café.
They and others were caught on a surveillance camera taking toys out the back door of the First Faith Development Center to a couple of waiting cars and a SUV.
As for their motive, Traci has some thoughts.
“I think they weren’t loved enough. They don’t love themselves enough. I think they need God.”
They were able to steal the toys by posing as volunteers and stacking boxes by the back door.
“When you took you affected about a thousand kids. It’s very heartless. It’s cruel and unkind. I don’t know what to say about them I hope the bust hell wide open.”
Police are hot on the trail of the known thieves, who are trying to unload the toys online.
“People are selling them on Facebook. We were able to send some dummies to act like they were going to buy the stuff,” Traci said.
“If they’re trying to sell it, call the police. Call us, we’ll call the police, if you don’t want to get involved.”
Thankfully, the Marines have already dropped of more toys and books on Wednesday to replenish those taken.
And at 1 p.m. Thursday, members of the Akron Fraternal Order of Police will bring a trailer load of toys to assist the effort.
No arrests have been made yet, but police are hopeful their leads will pan out.