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A choir had 15 of their credit and debit cards stolen Thursday while they performed at a Washington, D.C. Christmas concert to raise money for the homeless.
The Thomas Circle Singers, a chamber choral ensemble that performs in order to raise money for lower-income Washington, D.C. residents, was performing at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in front of 500 spectators, when someone sneaked into the basement where they had stored their belongings and took the cards.
Once he or she obtained the cards, the thief made a beeline to the store. Before the end of the concert, a $600 purchase had been made at an REI and $150 at a Toys R Us on one card alone, reports The Washington Post. Thousands more dollars were reportedly spent and another person's identification card was stolen. Six people were affected by the crime.
Thomas Circle Singer Juliene James, who works in criminal justice, said that the incident would not stop the group's mission, but she was disappointed it had happened.
"I think we'll be more careful, but I feel like this person was in need as well. I feel grateful that it wasn't more damaging, but of course there's always the feeling of violation and sadness when things like this happen. We're going to continue with our mission and our concerts," said James.
The group, which performs annually at Sing We Are Nowell!, said that the church basement was unlocked.
"We all warmed up and left our things," Clark Cheney, the group's chairman of the board, told The Washington Post. "We got lined up and began our processional. Literally as we were singing, underneath our feet someone was rifling through wallets, purses and bags."
Cheney remarked on the irony of the group's mission and what had happened in their midst.
"While we were trying to help people in need we were being robbed," Cheney said. "It was terribly disappointing. ... We didn't even think someone would want to do that kind of harm."
"People had to shut down their credit and debit cards right in the middle of the Christmas season. It was just incredibly disruptive," he added.
According to the The Thomas Circle Singer website, the organization has been in existence for over 30 years and fund "organizations serving the homeless and hungry, children, seniors and families at risk, the sick, and victims of violence in Washington, D.C." by donating them their ticket proceeds.
Washington, D.C. police said that the investigation is ongoing.