Police are investigating a "deplorable" and "disgusting" theft of bushfire appeal charity tins at an Albion Park Rail hotel on Tuesday morning.
Lake Illawarra officers were called to the Oaks Hotel Motel on the Princes Highway around 3am after a glass door was smashed at the back of the property, triggering a security alarm.
CCTV footage shows a man enter the hotel, run to the bar, grab the two Rural Fire Service and bushfire appeal tins and run out through the same door.
The break and enter took less than a minute.
Lake Illawarra police Acting Inspector Matt Brophey said the man appeared to target the tins.
"This is a deplorable act," he said.
"To target what is obviously for charity, for the people in desperate need in our community, is really low and despicable.
"I am appealing to the better nature of this person, to return those funds so it can be given to those people in need."
The man was wearing an aqua hooded jumper, blue jeans and black and white Nike shoes around the time of the incident.
Insp Brophey urged anyone with information or who may have seen the man to contact police.
"Our neighbouring communities have been devastated by recent bushfires and for someone to target those who are vulnerable is quite simply disgusting," he said.
"We have seen our community rally together in recent times to support those in need, so to see an act like this is extremely disappointing.
"The man made an effort to conceal his identity. He pulled his jumper over his face and had his hat down low.
"We will continue to investigate, and we are urging anyone with information that could lead to legal action to get in touch."
Insp Brophey said this incident was the only report Lake Illawarra police had received of charity money theft.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Lake Illawarra Police Station or Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.
A spokeswoman from the hotel declined to comment.