Man swipes Toys for Tots donation box, deputies say

Ken Suarez reports

- A guy walked into a UPS Store and walked out with a Toys for Tots donation box, according to the Polk County deputies who are now looking for the suspect. 

The store employee there when it happened said the suspect apologized to her for what he was about to do before running off with the box. Her encounter, plus surveillance video from the store showing what happened, could help detectives find the suspect. 

The surveillance video shows a guy with a medical mask covering his face walking into the store mid-afternoon on Sunday.

The woman behind the counter said the man told her his wife was sick and they couldn't pay their bills, so she gave him $5. A minute later, he came back. He told the clerk he was sorry about what he was about to do. He grabbed the box and raced out the door. She was startled at first, but ran after him and saw him disappear into the woods nearby.

He is described as being between 5" 6' and 5" 7' and weighing about 135 pounds. He was last seen wearing a medical mask and sunglasses.

The money in the donation box was supposed to buy books for needy kids as part of the Literacy Program, a joint project between Toys for Tots and UPS. Since its inception 8 years ago, it has raised more than $3 million to buy books.

"I think it's horrible that someone would take something that's meant for children that are in need," UPS Store employee Ben Bacon told FOX 13 News Wednesday.

It is estimated that the stolen donation box had between $30-40 inside. Unfortunately, the Polk County Chapter of Toys for Tots has been ripped off before.

"We had a trailer full of toys several years ago, someone [came] and stole the whole trailer, toys and everything," said Toys for Tots spokesman George Overstreet.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office hopes anyone with information about the thief will call them at (863) 298-6200.

The sheriff's office says a man seen in this surveillance image stole a donation box for the Toys for Tots program.  That organization raises money to help buy children presents during Christmas.

The box was at the lobby of a UPS Store in Davenport. According to Heartland Crimestoppers, the man walked in Saturday afternoon and told the employee that his wife was sick and they needed money for bills. The employee gave the suspect $5, and the man left.

A short time later, the man returned to the store and snatched the donation box from the counter and ran out the front door. It's believed there was about $30 or $40 inside.

The suspect was described as a white male, 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-7, between 130 and 140 pounds, and was wearing a white medical mask and sunglasses.

If you recognize him, contact Polk deputies.
 

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