Burglars strike not once but twice leaving the helpful feeling helpless

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The burglars hit, not once, but twice in three days. That is what happened this past week to the Opportunities in Tyler, location on the northeast side of Loop 323 outside Tyler. They are a branch of Goodwill Industries of East Texas.

The thieves made off with nearly $7,000 worth of lawn equipment. It's crime of irony, leaving the helpful feeling very helpless.

"They came in through the side of the building," said Sandy Bennett, OIT Co-manager. "They raised the tin and came to this room here."

Bennett said that is what happened the first time, Tuesday night. The storage room inside OIT's metal storage building was almost cleaned out, but the thieves came back again last night. This time, they broke through the side door of the building leaving their own bolt cutters behind. OIT staff reinforced the storage room door with metal bars after the first burglary, but the thieves used Goodwill's own ax to hack through the bars and finish the job.

"They stole all the chainsaws, all the blowers, all the weed eaters...everything," said Bennett. "It's terrible."

OIT provides jobs for the disabled and disadvantage. Just this past year, a slowing economy made it hard to keep many of its workers on the warehouse floor. Eventually, more contracts came flooding in, meaning its workforce could be hired back.

"This action that someone has taken has literally robbed six people of a job," said Mary Cowan, Director of Mission Services.

Cowan said the stolen lawn equipment helps provide residential and commercial lawn service jobs to several OIT employees. Luckily the large mowers were too big to carry off, but the loss still hurts.

"Goodwill's mission is to help people and if these individuals would come to goodwill, we could supply them with work," said Cowan. "It's just really a tragedy."

What's their job now? To recover and recoup their losses.

OIT management said its next lawn job is scheduled for Tuesday, but it depends on if they will have more equipment in time. The theft is still being investigated.