Thieves strike Sanger charity

FRESNO, Calif.

The organization provides food and clothing to the needy in the community. Hope Sanger President Julie Mendoza says they have served nearly 3,000 people this year. Many were from Sanger, Del Rey, Centerville and Parlier.

On Tuesday morning, the facility manager came into work and noticed the rooms ransacked and several items taken.

"It looked like a person was living here," Mendoza said, "If you've ever been to a homeless camp, it looked like that. Everything is just thrown around everywhere in no order shape or form."

"They had a picnic in the office. There was pomegranate juice on the carpet. It looked like they were here for a bit," she said.

Mendoza said two computer systems and printers were taken. A boom box, blankets and food were also taken. She says the biggest loss to the organization is the computer in the main office. It stored information on all their clients.

"We have volunteers that spend hours inputting that information in the computer so if that family returns, instead of going through the hard copies then we just go to the computer," Mendoza said. "It's just so much easier to look at that information."

Hope Sanger does not collect confidential information from their clients. They say there are not any Social Security numbers or driver's license numbers to fall into the wrong hands. The challenge will be sorting through the 3,000 paper copies of their client's information.

Police say there's no sign of forced entry. They think that someone may have left a door open. But the volunteer board members believe the thief or thieves came in through a back window.

"First of all, the window is ajar," Jamie Garza said. Garza is the treasurer for Hope Sanger. "Looks like they pushed it open somehow and the screen was taken of, the trash can is right nearby and it looks like they may have propped themselves and got up there."

Hope Sanger works with several churches, clubs and school districts. Mendoza says they rely entirely on their donations so replacing the stolen items may be a challenge but they will move forward.

"We're not going to skip a beat," Mendoza said.

The organization is open to the public Monday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Police say the break-in could have happened anytime from the close of business Monday to Tuesday morning.

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