Burnaby Neighbourhood House says it lost nearly $20,000 of goods — including a donated diamond — in a break-and-enter at the B.C. Lower Mainland charity Sunday.

Executive director Antonia Beck says the thieves broke in on Sunday morning, taking an entry fob from an external lock box and making off with a large 1920s safe containing many items donated to the charity.

Among other things, the safe contained valuable donations for the charity's upcoming Great Gatsby-themed fundraiser, including a small diamond appraised at $6,500, and a range of gift cards and prizes for their silent auction.

"It was really devastating," said Beck, who said she couldn't believe anyone managed to move the safe, which weighed an estimated 1,000 pounds.

"When I found out that the safe had been stolen, I think that was the most upsetting thing for me, because I just really never thought that would happen to us."

Ironically, says Beck, the diamond was supposed to be part of a theatrical presentation at the fundraising gala in February, telling the story of a diamond that goes missing.

Youth donations also stolen

Beck says the theft has been reported to the RCMP and security at the charity, which offers support programs for community members in Burnaby, is being reviewed.

Burnaby Neighbourhood House fundraiser

The diamond was donated for the upcoming Great Gatsby-themed Burnaby Neighbourhood House fundraising gala. (Burnaby Neighbourhood House)

The fob key in the external lock box, intended for use by emergency services, not only gave the thieves access to the whole office but also switched off all building alarms, she said.

Beck said the theft has been shocking to everyone at the house, especially their youth leadership group, a group of 17 and 18 year olds who have lost $800 of donations they had stored in the safe.

The teenagers had intended to use the cash, collected over the holidays, to fund projects helping refugees and homeless people in the coming months but are now having to rethink their plans.

While Beck says the charity is asking donors to help replace the cash and donated items if possible, the diamond is irreplaceable.

"Stealing is bad but to steal from a charity that helps people is even worse," said Beck. "If they have the diamond and they would like to give it back, we'd really appreciate that."