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Thief Steals from SJC Nonprofit

Taken were beach equipment, a bike and a computer. The charity serves poor children in San Juan Capistrano.

A thief over the weekend broke into a charity-owned van and stole beach gear used by local underprivileged children.

Eric Groos of Great Opportunities said he discovered lock on the van’s back door jimmied Saturday and a bike, Boogie boards, surfboards, snorkeling equipment and more gone.

He filed a report with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, but Groos said there are no leads.

Great Opportunities uses the equipment to bring local, impoverished children to the beach, to learn to swim and respect the ocean. The organization also puts on a yearly bicycle rodeo.

Groos said he's pretty sure the theft took place between Friday and Saturday because on Friday, a friend dropped by the van to add some fins.

Groos find it hard to put a value on the items taken because everything was used, he said. The BMX bike was donated by San Juan Capistrano's Buy My Bikes, and a lot of the Boogie boards were donated by people who picked them up at garage sales.

He sees the value in nonmonetary terms.

“If I had 20 boards, that means I can get 20 kids in the ocean,” he said, adding that even though San Juan is so close to the shoreline, some kids never see the water.

Also taken was a refurbished computer donated by Southern California Edison, which Groos was planning to give to a student. The bike, as well, was destined to a local middle schooler, he said.

The nonprofit was planning on using the snorkeling equipment next for a skin diving glass for 10 children in June, Groos said. Now, he may have to cancel it.

“We’re not a city program. We’re not a church program. We’re not a corporate program,” he added. “We’re operating on a shoestring at all times.”

To donate  to Grat Opportunities, visit its Facebook page.

Ryan Foland January 22, 2013 at 06:56 PM
This is awful. Eric and his group do so much for the community. What a shame. I am sure that the community will rise to the occasion, and help them get back what they lost. Shame on those thieves.
Ilse M. Byrnes January 23, 2013 at 03:21 AM
I hope that they catch those guys and then have them do Community Service for a long time plus help the kids regain their lost items- they should pay for it Ilse Byrnes
Buy My Bikes January 23, 2013 at 09:27 PM
We will help you Great Opportunities! Get us a list of what you are going to need ! We will put it up and get the stuff before the Spring!! Bicycle Jim! p.s. Happy Birthday to your Best Friend Eric!!

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