Parents and students at a South Philadelphia elementary school are "devastated" after weekend thieves stole $9,000 raised during the school's annual Raffle Night.

The money had been secured in a cabinet in the principal's locked office at A.S. Jenks Elementary School at 13th and Porter Streets.

"They hurt the children," said Lora Hall, copresident of the A.S. Jenks Home and School Association.

The money was raised from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at a festive gathering where items donated by stores and families were raffled, Hall said. Proceeds pay for educational supplies, graduation day, and a "fun fair" carnival for the children, she said.

The money was placed in the principal's office after the festivities, said Hall, who has a daughter in fourth grade at Jenks.

"When we returned to the school on Monday, all of the money was gone," she said. "We're heartbroken over it because, without that money, we can't do for the children what we wanted to do."

Because there were no signs of forced entry at the school, the theft was likely an inside job, said Detective James Dunlap of the Police Department's South Detectives Division.

The thief or thieves used a generic security code on a keypad to get into the locked office.

Phyllis Lucia, copresident of the Home and School Association, said, "We've had many functions at the school, and something like this has never happened."

"Every child in this school was violated," said Lucia, who has a son in fourth grade at Jenks. "I feel like they robbed from every child in this building."

On raffle night, parents and other community residents pay $6 admission, buy tickets in sheets of 25, and place tickets in buckets near the items they wish to win, Lucia said.

"We had over 200 gifts to raffle off," she said. They included restaurant dinners, gift baskets, Phillies tickets, household items, and such sports memorabilia as a football autographed by former Eagles quarterback Jeff Garcia, she said.

After hearing about the theft, many in the community have called to offer support, Hall said.

"The school staff and community is already reaching out to us," she said.

Dunlap asked that residents who might have seen someone entering the school over the weekend call South Detectives at 215-686-3013 or 215-686-3014.

Contact staff writer Vernon Clark
at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.