Gift cards stolen from SLC homeless youth center

Posted at 6:29 PM, Dec 21, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY - Hundreds of holiday gift cards were stolen from Volunteers of America, a nonprofit organization for homeless youth.

Police say the thieves were able to break into the Homeless Youth Resource Center at 655 South State Street via a skylight in the roof on Thursday morning.

The thieves rummaged through 150 bags given to homeless youth at the center for Christmas - they contain things like toiletries, other necessities and gift cards - and took gift cards, bus tokens and two bikes from outreach workers.

"I mean it's certainly frustrating. My thought is one would think that the last place you'd want to rob is a charity," Zach Bale with the Volunteers of America.

Bale estimates that the items stolen are valued between $6,000 and 10,000. 

Since the story of the theft got out, all gift cards have been replaced by donors and the backpacks were handed out Friday afternoon.

"There's a couple businesses where it's pretty common to get a Smith's gift card or something for the holidays as an employee and we've heard from many employees that they've turned that back around and re-donated it," Bale said.

The Homeless Youth Resource Center helps about 1,200 homeless youth between 15 and 22 years old who may have been abused, kicked out of their home or aged out of the foster system.

The Volunteers of America and Salt Lake City Police are hoping to find the person or people who stole the items. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 801-799-3000.