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Appliance thefts tear at hearts at San Francisco Habitat for Humanity site

SAN FRANCISCO — Habitat for Humanity volunteers spent more than a year building seven homes for disadvantaged families in a San Francisco neighborhood.

In one night, a band of thieves managed to deflate their altruistic spirit.

Workers putting the final touches on homes in the Bayview neighborhood arrived one morning last week to find that burglars had stolen 17 brand-new refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers, worth more than $10,000.

Erin Colton, Habitat's site manager, has worked on the project since ground was broken in January 2009. "When you come that far and put that much work into these homes and into this community," she said, "it's heartbreaking. Defeating. Demoralizing."

Heartbreaking because the first homeowners are scheduled to move in next week. Defeating because this marks the second time thieves have sacked the site, and demoralizing because it's clear the burglars scouted the location for days, possibly weeks.

"Who steals from Habitat homes?" Colton asked. "If they knew what these homes were for and who they served …"

Colton said new appliances in boxes were stolen from garages of three of the homes late last year. This time, all the appliances were installed, but the thieves broke back windows to get inside and expertly detached gas lines to pull out the ranges. They also removed dishwashers and refrigerators from their kitchen ports, and pulled out washers and dryers.

Kilbridge said he has been keeping an eye on Craigslist for the Energy Star model appliances. "We're hopeful they turn up, but we're not yet optimistic," he said. "We're hoping to find these appliances by the grace of God."

Appliance thefts tear at hearts at San Francisco Habitat for Humanity site 04/21/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 9:40pm]
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