A small group stole about $850 in fireworks from a stand on Sunflower Avenue in Costa Mesa, volunteers said Friday.
The stand, managed by the Costa Mesa Middle School DELTA program, was raising money for enrichment programs, such as subsidizing costs for student field trips.
About three people broke into the booth about 5 a.m. Wednesday and made off with six bundles of fireworks, stand volunteer Roy Center said.
The theft happened when a night watchman stepped away for a few minutes, he said.
"Somebody must have been watching," Center said, "and they came with bolt cutters."
After snipping the lock, the burglars took some of the largest packages of fireworks and ran, Center said.
"They did like a smash and grab, grabbed what they could and hopped the fence," he said.
The nonprofit reported the theft to police and continued to sell throughout Thursday.
Center didn't know how much DELTA made from sales but said it was enough for the group to overcome the theft.
"We're still coming out ahead," he said.
— Jeremiah Dobruck