FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Police are investigating after, they said, a group of children broke into a South Florida nonprofit that helps the homeless, stealing nearly 20 bicycles and pelting a security guard with rocks before taking off.
According to officials, the juveniles raided the bike lot at Broward Partnership, a Fort Lauderdale-based nonprofit, Wednesday night.
Surveillance cameras captured between 12 and 15 children running onto the property, located at 920 NW 7th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale.
“They were able to break through locks. They were able to use bolt cutters to get access to the bikes and immediately took off,” said Broward Partnership spokesperson Mike Long.
The video shows the teens riding away on the bicycles. One of them even is seen dropping a bike on his way out, then returning to retrieve it minutes later.
Police said the subjects threw rocks at a security guard when he tried to intervene.
To live at Broward Partnership’s homeless shelter, residents are required to have a job, and most, like Leroy Darby, depend on a bicycle to get him there. “Very, very important to get us back and forwards,” he said. “We don’t have any money to buy any cars, so we have to use our bikes to go to work back and forwards.
After the theft, many residents were left stranded, unable to go to work.
Long said stealing from the homeless is particularly low. “They took advantage of people who are a lot worse off than they even could be,” he said.
Darby was fortunate, he said the thieves broke his bike’s lock but did not steal it. “I had to get another lock. They cut this one,” he said.
Darby said the theft made an already difficult situation even tougher for residents of the shelter. “That’s our main purpose: get a job, getting yourself back on life, off the streets,” he said. “Have a life. That’s what we all want in life.”
But things are already beginning to look up for Broward Partnership. RBX, a Fort Lauderdale organization that collects and refurbishes bicycles, found out about the theft and has pledged to donate 15 bikes to the organization to make up for their loss.
If you have any information on this theft, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.
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