Officers were alerted to the theft by a man who was paying his respects to a friend killed in the tragedy at the Clutha Vaults.
Jordan Parry, 16, Darren Melrose, 18 and a 17-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pled guilty to theft at Glasgow Sheriff Court yesterday.
The court heard the trio escaped from the scene with the items and left bottles strewn at the entrance behind them.
But they were spotted by the man and the teenagers were caught red-handed on camera forcing their way into the empty pub.
Officers then heard them smashing charity tins off of the pavement and saw piles of coins and bottles of alcohol, the court heard.
The theft came after a Police Scotland helicopter crashed on November 29 last year, killing seven people in the packed pub and its three crew.
The court heard that Edward Kirkland was standing near flowers at the edge of the Clydeside at about 2.20am on December 17 but became "concerned" when he saw the three accused hanging around at the pub. He walked to the nearby Euro Hostel on Clyde Street and contacted the police.
Procurator-fiscal depute Cecelia De-Groot told the court: "CCTV operators were alerted and they were able to observe the accused outside the locus. The first time on the CCTV is 2.24 hours."
She said the 17-year-old girl could be seen going to the front of the pub and trying to get in but it was secured.
Mrs De-Groot said: "The accused Melrose then approached the front door and forced entry using bodily pressure and force. All accused entered the locus and they remained there until 2.45 hours. They could be seen exiting and they ran across the road in possession of carrier bags."
They were seen on CCTV heading along the River Clyde and police made their way there.
Mrs De-Groot added: "They could be heard smashing what was charity tins off the pavement and throwing parts of the tins into the River Clyde. Officers observed piles of coins from the tins on the ground and bottles of alcohol."
Parry, Melrose and the 17-year-old were arrested for theft by housebreaking.
Police went to the Clutha and saw the building was not secure and bottles of alcohol were strewn around inside the entrance to the pub. The court heard £171 was the amount taken from three charity tins and a quantity of alcohol too.
Sheriff Joseph Platt deferred sentence on the trio until next month for reports and remanded them in custody.
The latest report by air accident investigators has found there were warnings of low fuel on the left and right fuel tanks before the helicopter went down.