Smash & grab victim thrilled to be reunited with backpack thanks to Uptown Downtown Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- There was the crime, a smash and grab on the streets of Oakland.

However, the victim says good intent on the part of a city agency reunited her with her backpack.

Vanessa D'Ambrosio was working the night of Dec. 18 when her backpack was stolen in a smash and grab robbery.

The backpack contained a wallet filled with gift cards, an iPhone, and most disturbingly to her a folder of papers for refinancing her mortgage.

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She was shocked to see her window smashed out and the backpack was gone.

That same night, ambassadors with Uptown Downtown Oakland community benefit districts found her discarded backpack.

Ambassador Levan Turner said, "I seen a backpack tucked behind a bush so I pulled it out and I seen it had a lot of content in there."

The very next day after some online detective work, the smash and grab victim was reunited with her backpack and at least her paperwork.

"I tried to hand him money. He said no no no I can't accept that. So I jumped out of the car. I was filled with emotion and gratitude and I went up to him and held his hands and said thank you, thank you so much," D'Ambrosio said.

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The ambassadors do far more than just recovering stolen property using social media. They do cleanups, plant landscaping over 82 square blocks along Broadway.

Uptown Downtown's program director Andrew Jones said they have 30 full-time ambassadors working seven days a week, 24 hours a day. He added, "the work they do in downtown Oakland, it impacts tens of thousands of people annually".

"I think they're under-recognized. I think there are good people like Uptown Downtown Oakland and Charles Taylor and Levan and we don't speak enough about them," D'Ambrosio said.

Uptown Downtown is supported by property taxes in Oakland to "fill in the gaps".

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