$20,000 gifts stolen from children's hospital

$20,000 gifts stolen from children's hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center is seeking toy donations after nearly $20,000 worth of toys was stolen from its Children's Rehabilitative Services clinic.

The clinic, at Third Avenue and Thomas Road, lost about 90 percent of the toys it had accumulated over the past several months, including Wii systems and a popcorn machine. The toys were going to be passed out as Christmas gifts to the chronically ill and disabled children the clinic serves.

List of needed items

Though the toys disappeared in late October, the hospital didn't comment until Wednesday. In a press conference, clinic child-life coordinator Lori Takeuchi explained the hospital had waited to allow the Phoenix Police Department time to investigate and to appeal to Valley residents closer to the Christmas holiday.

Ideally, the hospital hopes to recoup the previous quantity of toys along with additional items.

"Every year, we find we have more families that come in, and they bring their brothers and sisters, and we give every child that comes in a gift," Takeuchi said. "So it is a pretty monumental task. That's why we're reaching out to the community."

The toys had been kept in a secured storage space in one of the hospital's parking garages, which was checked weekly. Takeuchi discovered the toys had been stolen during one of those weekly visits.

"I just kind of sat there for a minute, and I couldn't actually think. It was 'Oh my gosh,' and...'What are we going to do?'" she said. "It just broke my heart that someone who came in there knew it was for children" and still took it.

Some toy bins in the storage space were emptied and left behind, while other, full bins were stolen entirely.

Hospital and clinic employees said they don't have any guesses as to who stole the toys. Before it was closed off, the parking garage was "heavily trafficked" and had been used by physicians during the week from early morning to evening, Takeuchi said.

Only a handful of people knew where the toys were kept, but the hospital doesn't believe it was an inside job.

Since the children who visit the clinic have special needs, all toys donated must be new to minimize germs. The hospital cannot accept items like skateboards or bicycles, and it will not take any stuffed animals or violent toys.

Toys for the preschool-toddler age group -- dolls, balls and games, among others -- are preferred.

New donations will be kept in an undisclosed and secure facility.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2011/11/30/20111130phoenix-hospital-toy-donations-stolen-worth.html#ixzz1hLfrncxR