SAN FRANCISCO -- At least four thieves targeted a group of teens in San Francisco for a religious camp. Breaking out the windows of their van in Fisherman's Wharf and stealing $10,000 worth of items.
The camp director of the "Chicago Jewish Teens" camp says he is optimistic and grateful.
Last Thursday multiple broken-out windows could be seen on a large van that had been parked next to the famous Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco.
"We came back to our vehicles and suddenly instead of the unity and the love and that feeling of comradery; we saw the polar opposite, destruction and another loss in our possessions," says Schneur Zalman Notik of the "Chicago Jewish Teens" camp. He's describing the moment after a van burglary. One where multiple thieves, who witnesses say were armed, broke in and stole the group's personal items as the teens, traveling from all over the world and some of whom are underprivileged, rented bicycles to ride to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Zalman, who spoke with ABC7 News Tuesday from another youth trip near a waterfall in Alaska, says that as upsetting as this was, people risked their lives recording videos showing the crime.
Those videos are now part of the police investigation.
Backpacks full of clothes, passports, cameras, and electronics were stolen but Zalman says the two dozen or so young victims came together.
"It reinforced some of the lessons learned about the power of unity, the power of hope. When we have unity, when we have hope, we have hope in a shared future and in our ability to provide for ourselves and make the world a better place," says Zalman.
Some of the items were recovered in a nearby park with the help of San Francisco police and witnesses.
For those wondering, Zalman says there were counselors who stayed with the van during the bicycle ride, but when the teens got back they went to help them down the block and that is when the thieves hit.
Police say no arrests have been made but Zalman says he's optimistic that insurance will cover some of the $10,000 worth of items stolen.
"Thank you for kind people in San Francisco and really, kind people everywhere. We received an outpouring of love and support for our boys and for all that we do in our shared mission it has truly truly been beautiful," says Zalman.
Zalman says their teenage campers are boys from all across the globe including the U.S., UK, Ireland, and several from Ukraine. The cost for some of the underprivileged teens are covered with scholarships that pay for the trips. If you'd like to help any of the campers out, Zalman says you can go to: https://www.chicagojewishteens.com/donate
Anyone with information is asked to contact the SFPD at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD.