The Camden Police Athletic League, designed to be a safe haven for the city's youngsters, has been burglarized three nights in a row, with a loss of close to $3,000 in equipment, police announced yesterday.

As a group of 19 of the juveniles that attend the mentoring program sat glumly in a circle, Lt. Nicole Martin and Detective Dionne Redden told reporters the youths had been "violated."

"These kids come here for a more positive setting," said Redden, a police mentor in the program. "They can do their homework here and stay out of trouble and not feel victimized. Now all of that has been violated."

The center lost basketball and table-tennis equipment, as well as music, video and computer equipment. Damage was also done to locks, doors and windows during the Sunday-through-Tuesday break-ins.

The officers said the center was now in such bad shape, they doubted that the burglars would return. "There's nothing left to steal," said Martin.

Police said anyone with information should call 856-757-7434.- Dwight Ott