SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Staff at a child adoption and foster center in Springfield opened up shop Tuesday to find they had lost copper air conditioning components to thieves who left behind a Halloween mask.
“It looked like a Chuckie mask with yellow hair,” Brandi VanAntwerp told Ozarks First Wednesday. VanAntwerp is the executive director of FosterAdopt Connect Springfield, an organization that provides adoption and foster services to children and families in the area.
Security footage showed that the theft took place at approximately 1:40 a.m. Tuesday morning. The theft left FosterAdopt without an air conditioning unit. Temperatures have consistently been above 90 degrees Fahrenheit the week prior and are forecasted to stay that way for the next week.
“Our air conditioning unit is no longer working and it’s about 84 degrees back in our back office. We are able to work remote if we need to. So we have had that ability,” said Danielle Wise, the Development Director for FosterAdopt Connect.
According to a press release sent out by FosterAdopt, the organization relies on funding from state contracts, grants and private donations. FosterAdopt Connect will have to find funding before it is able to cover the cost of the air conditioning unit.
“The stolen air conditioner parts will cost us thousands of dollars to repair,” VanAntwerp wrote in the press release. “I understand the folks who stole these parts are struggling, but I wish they would pause to realize the harm they’re doing to our work to help youth in need of our programs.”
“To get a cage to replace it could cost 1500 dollars, which is what they would like for us to have on all units just so that we don’t have this happen again,” said Wise. “We’ll have to find funds in some way, whether it’s through fundraising or other ways, but it will be taken out of money that could be serving children and families in the foster care system.”
FosterAdopt has sent in a preliminary report with the police. The organization asks that anyone with information about the theft contact the police.