Police say they caught a real Grinch on Tuesday night — trying to pilfer toys for sick and needy kids right in the lobby of their own headquarters.

A dispatcher at the town’s Emergency Communications Center, checking surveillance cameras, noticed a woman, later identified as Judith Howard, 55, of Seymour, taking toys from collection boxes in the lobby and, over the course of several trips, putting them in a car parked outside about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Two large boxes are put in the lobby to collect donations for the Fairfield Police Benevolent Association’s holiday toy drive. According to the report, Howard, who lives on Peach Drive in Seymour, initially told police that she thought the toys had been left in the boxes for people to take. The 16 toys taken were estimated to be worth $320, police said.

Howard was charged with sixth-degree larceny and released after posting a $500 bond. She is scheduled to appear Dec. 14 at state Superior Court in Bridgeport.

“It’s unfortunate that a person found it necessary to do that,” said police Detective Stephen Rilling, who is in charge of the toy drive, which the PBA has sponsored since 1998. “We are absolutely accommodating, and if anyone were in need for toys for the holiday, all they had to do was ask.”

The toys collected during the drive, which lasts until Dec. 21, are distributed to Bridgeport Hospital for children who find themselves in the hospital during the holidays, and to Save the Children, the Fairfield-based international relief agency.

Besides the police lobby, toy collection boxes can be found at all the town’s public schools, Assumption School, the Town Clerk’s office in Old Town Hall and the Probate Court in Sullivan-Independence Hall. Other locations include the North Avenue Correctional Facility in Bridgeport, Rilling said, as well as Chef’s Table restaurant, Cambridge Rehabilitation Center and the Fairfield University Early Education Center.

A “stuff the cruiser” toy drive will also be held Dec. 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Hobby Town, 847 Post Road.

All toys donated to the campaign should be new and unwrapped.