Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thieves in Arizona steal tires from vans for disabled people

From The Arizona Republic:

A couple of vans that are used to transport the disabled are sitting on blocks after thieves stole some of their tires and wheels for the second time this month.

It's another financial blow to United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona. The latest thefts happened between late Monday night and early Tuesday morning at the agency's north Phoenix office. Thieves got away with all of the back tires - eight in all - from two vans that have dual-rear wheels.

The same thing happened earlier in the month. Each time, it was a $4,000 loss, or $8,000 total. The agency will pay the loss rather than submit insurance claims and risk higher premiums, Development Director Alma Chavez-Lira said.
"Whoever is doing this knows they are stealing from people with disabilities," she said. "I know times are rough on everyone, but who does that to other people?"

The vans are about a month old, and Chavez-Lira thinks that makes them attractive targets. She said the vans are used mainly to take children to after-school programs and adults on community outings. The agency has about 20 other vans so programs won't be disrupted.

The lot where the vans are parked has security cameras. The new vans were moved to a more central spot in the lot, and the cameras were aimed at them. But Chavez-Lira said the thieves used a pole, or something like one, to push the cameras in another direction.

Now the agency is considering putting in a fence or more security cameras. But a fence could cost $20,000 to $25,000, Chavez-Lira said, and the agency has been hit by state budget cuts and that's a lot of money. Also, she worries that fencing may change the way people feel the place when they visit.

The agency actually has been hit with a series of thefts. Besides the tires, Chavez-Lira said gasoline, copper piping and catalytic converters also have been stolen there.