Washington state

Two boys steal a year’s worth of money to fight cancer from a woman’s hands

Children steal bag of money from North Tacoma garage sale raising money to fight cancer

Two young boys stole a bag of money containing up to $500 from volunteers at a garage sale raising money to fight cancer in North Tacoma.
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Two young boys stole a bag of money containing up to $500 from volunteers at a garage sale raising money to fight cancer in North Tacoma.

Amy Diehr and her fellow volunteers have spent the last year collecting donations for their annual garage sale in Tacoma’s North End that benefits the American Cancer Society.

On Saturday, the money they earned from selling furniture, bikes, housewares and tomato plants was stolen right out of her hands.

By a 10-year-old boy.

Diehr was speechless as the prepubescent robber and his partner took off running. But four volunteers and two shoppers gave chase.

“It’s just so bold,” Diehr said later. She estimated both boys to be 10.

One man fell. He was taken to the hospital with a possible fracture.

The boy robbers made a clean getaway with as much as $500, Diehr estimated.

She was left with only questions.

“I really want to ask them, ‘Was this just an everyday thing for you? Was this a blip or is this the way your life is?’ ”

The boys had been hanging around for a while before the theft. They asked Diehr if they could work and earn some money. They wanted to see the hit movie, “Avengers: Endgame” they told her.

She couldn’t offer paying jobs. Everyone working at the sale is a volunteer.

Diehr and most of the other volunteers work at Tacoma Community House, a non-profit that’s been assisting immigrants and refugees on the Tacoma’s Hilltop for 110 years.

For the past 26 years, they’ve participated in the annual cancer fundraiser Relay for Life. They call themselves The Cancer Stompers.

The garage sale typically raises $2,000. Volunteers even raise plants for it.

“One year, we didn’t have tomato plants and people were outraged,” Diehr said, momentarily amused at the memory.

It’s the group’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

“People come back every year because they want to make donations to the Cancer Society,” she said.

The police came shortly after the 2 p.m. robbery. There was little they could do.

Word spread quickly online and around the garage sale site in the 1000 block of North Junett Street.

A neighbor walked up and handed Diehr a $100 donation. “We just want you to know,” he said, “Our neighborhood isn’t like this.”

The garage sale has always been just one day. This year, they’re holding it again on Sunday beginning at 9 a.m. to try to recoup their losses.

For Diehr, she had more than money taken from her on Saturday.

“I’ve never been robbed before,” she said. “It’s hard for me. That kids are so jaded.”

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune for 20 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and at other newspapers in Nevada and California.


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