'It's just really disheartening.' Thieves target Easterseals' vans in Watertown
Thieves in Watertown hit a nonprofit this week, impacting the organization's ability to help people with special needs. Tuesday morning staff at Easterseals of Greater Waterbury arrived at the Watertown location to find its fleet of 15 vans out of commission. Security camera footage showed two suspects stole the vans' catalytic converters overnight. They wore black ski masks and were in a black four-door Acura with silver rims.
"It's just really disheartening and sad to think that an organization like Easterseals can be vandalized like this," said Loraine Shea, president and CEO of Easterseals of Greater Waterbury. "We rely on our vans to pick up the individuals that we serve. They come to their programs here, they're involved in the community on a daily basis, they go to work on a daily basis, so that day, all those services did not happen."
Shea said the Watertown facility provides services for dozens of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who rely on the nonprofit.
"The human impact is one thing. The financial impact on Easterseals is a whole other thing," she said.
Shea told News 12 even with insurance, nonprofit is looking at about $15,000 to fix the vans, money the nonprofit did not budget for and now has to find.
"It's also just a huge distraction from our mission," she added.
But a local business helped get Easterseals back on the road.
"Enterprise really pulled through for us. They got us some rental vehicles. You know rental vehicles aren't easy to find these days. They found 15 vans for us," Shea explained.
Services were running again Wednesday, and Shea said an auto repair business had already started repairs on Easterseals' fleet.
"Watertown's a great community. They really stepped up for us," Shea told News 12.
You can learn more about Easterseals of Greater Waterbury or make a donation here.
Anyone with information on the theft is asked to contact Watertown police.