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Surveillance photo,
An unidentified man entered the Weber State University campus store in Ogden on Aug. 8, 2012, and took 50 backpacks meant to go to underprivileged children through Catholic Community Services of Northern Utah.

OGDEN — Police are investigating whether 50 backpacks meant for low-income students were stolen or if the items' disappearance is a misunderstanding.

Michael Vaughan, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Weber State University, organized the donation for Catholic Community Services' annual Backpack Bonanza! Drive. But when Vaughan went to pick up the 50 backpacks from the WSU campus store a few weeks ago, they were gone.

Police said a man picked up the backpacks meant for charity on Aug. 8. Employees even helped him load them into his car, police said.

But officials with Catholic Community Services for Northern Utah say they don't recognize the man caught on surveillance video. 

"If somebody did steal those backpacks, that would be despicable," Vaughan said.

WSU spokesman John Kowalewski said it's possible there was a miscommunication between the man who picked up the backpacks and the bookstore employees.

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"There is a possibility that this person was representing another local nonprofit and, at this point, doesn't realize or doesn't know that the backpacks they picked up were actually intended for charity," Kowalewski said.

The campus store donated 50 backpacks to Catholic Community Services to make up for the loss. The program provided more than 2,400 children with backpacks and school supplies for the new school year.

Police are hoping to talk to the man who picked up the backpacks. They're asking anyone with information about the missing backpacks or the man in the surveillance video to call campus police at 801-626-6460.

E-mail: vvo-duc@ksl.com