VALLEJO (CBS SF) – A Vallejo city official, dismayed that thieves stole donations at a holiday fundraising concert for Benjamin Franklin Middle School, said Thursday he would personally replace all the money that had been taken.

Landis Garden, a planning commissioner for the city, said he was moved by the story he heard on the morning news, at a time when Vallejo has seen a lot of hardship.

KCBS’ Susan Leigh Taylor Reports:

“Vallejo’s been suffering a lot,” he said, noting the killing of Vallejo Police officer Jim Capoot. “We lost our beloved officer recently.”

Four men grabbed the cash box where donations were being collected at the door of the school’s multi-purpose room Tuesday during the concert. They ran off with nearly $700, school officials said.

“The kids and the parents and the school officials are suffering because of this loss, and they were obviously doing a good deed,” Garden said.

The holiday concert is the biggest fundraiser Franklin’s parent-teacher organization puts on all year.

Garden said he wanted to make a gesture that would remind people they have the power to make their communities better. In his view, though, his good deed has only solved half the problem.

“The young men who stole are also suffering. They apparently are very lost,” he said. “That’s the true tragedy to me.”

The school principal said the teenagers videotaped stealing the cash box had actually bought five-dollar tickets beforehand to blend in with the other spectators.

Police are not optimistic the videotape will help catch the boys. Shortly after they grabbed the cash, they turned their sweatshirts inside out and disappeared into the crowd.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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