SAMOHI — Efforts to outfit villages in Africa and Cambodia with life-saving water treatment devices took a serious blow earlier this month when thousands of bottles and cans were stolen from student organizations Team Marine and Heal the Bay Surfrider Club.

The recyclables, worth several hundred dollars, were to be used to purchase LifeStraws, which are water purifiers used to help the world’s poor who suffer from waterborne disease, said Benjamin Kay, a biology teacher at Santa Monica High School who advises both student groups.

“This is just a major bummer for these kids,” Kay said of the theft, which occurred during the weekend of Oct. 10 -11. “These kids spent countless hours collecting over the summer and to have someone take them is really disappointing. The kids are upset, but they are confident they will be able to make it up in time. We hope that there are no more inside jobs.”

Kay, who has not filed a police report, preferring to keep the investigation in house, is convinced the theft was perpetrated by someone from Samohi, given that the recyclables were stored in a secured area on campus that few people have access to.

Kay is talking with Solid Waste Management about getting recycling bins with locks to prevent any future thefts. He is also trying to get his hands on surveillance footage from one of the school’s security cameras to nab the culprit.

Anyone with information on the theft or is interested in donating recyclables for the effort is urged to contact Samohi administrators at (310) 395-3204, or Kay at benjamin.kay@smmusd.org.