Kobe Bryant

Thousands of Dollars in Merchandise and Owner's Kobe Memorabilia Stolen From Riverside Thrift Store

Thanks to the support of the Riverside community after the burglaries, Abbins Thrift Store will remain open.

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Two men broke into Abbins Thrift Store in Riverside twice last Thursday, making off thousands of dollars worth of merchandise intended for low-income individuals and the owner's personal collection of Kobe Bryant memorabilia.

Their crimes caught on security footage, the men first broke in around 2:30 a.m. and stole high end shoes and other items, according to owner Alex Villarreal.

"They ripped off about 30 jerseys that we had -- some that were autographed," he said.

They returned a few hours later in the daylight, filling trash bags with as many items as they could.

Villarreal says one of the thieves even wore a pair of shoes that they stole in the first break-in.

The pair made off with around $8,000 worth of goods and Villarreal says his biggest loss is his Mamba, or Kobe Bryant, memorabilia.

A huge Bryant fan himself, Villarreal spent years accumulating expensive jerseys which he would display in the store.

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"It wasn't for sale.. it was just displaying I'm a huge Kobe fan, I've always been and that's stuff I can't replace that I got personally at games," he said.

The burglaries were such a big blow to the business that Villarreal considered closing it for good.

This was until community members heard about the theft and began flooding the store over the weekend.

"Just to show their support ... just to try to buy random things to keep us afloat.. cause they don't want to see us gone," he said.

Villarreal opened his store in February 2021 during the height of the pandemic.

"It was maybe not the best time to do it, but we did it with good intentions of helping our community," he said.

The husband and father of two said the goal in opening the store was to offer less expensive items for people struggling financially.

"If somebody donates something that we didn't pay for, we will give it out for free instead of charging for it," he said.

Now, that community he opened his store to support has paid their appreciation back to him and his business.

Villarreal found some of his stolen items being sold online, and Riverside police say they are investigating that lead.

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