Who stole the money from the cookie booths?

Nobody knows, but the community has stepped in to help two local Girl Scouts troops recoup their losses when thieves walked off with their cash boxes and more than $600 from their cookie booths in two separate incidents last weekend.

Members of Troop 307 were packing up at Fry's grocery store at the corner North First Avenue and East Grant Road Saturday evening when they were approached by two women who began asking questions and distracting them, said Debbie Rich, CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona. One of the women grabbed the cash box, which contained about $375, and the pair ran to a nearby car and drove off. The car's license plate had been covered.

The next morning, people were waiting outside the store for the girls to arrive to donate money to replace the stolen cash, Rich said.

In the second incident, Scouts from Troop 1619 were set up at Bookmans, 6230 E. Speedway, on Sunday morning when a man snatched the box, hopped a fence and ran into a wash.

There was about $250 in that cash box, Rich said.

People who saw the incident donated money, she said.

Girl Scouts have training and safety procedures in place when selling at cookie booths, including having at least two adults at each booth at all times, having adults hold large bills and always having a hand on the cash box, Rich said.

Rich said she'll discuss the incidents with a group of volunteers to see if there are any improvements that can be made to safety procedures.

"I think probably one thing that we're going to do is put in the training some different scenarios," she said.

Rich said the booths are an important part of cookie sales, which have decreased this year.

"The booths are really the bread and butter," she said. "The sad part is it used to be going door to door, but then parents got skeptical about knocking on doors and so then booths really took off, and now we have this suction and it's like 'Oh, what are we going to do?' " Rich said.

The incidents have shown the girls that despite the bad seeds, there is still a lot of good in the community, Rich said.

"I think we're blessed in our community. ... You know for every one bad person there is thinking about ripping off a cash box from Girl Scout troops, now there's 10 good Samaritans looking out for those girls when they walk by," Rich said. "I think that awareness has been raised."

Cookie sales were officially supposed to end Sunday, but they have been extended by one week because snow prevented the Scouts from going out and selling one weekend, Rich said.

Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4224.