CASA of the Coastal Bend was targeted by thieves overnight. Thousands of dollars worth of equipment was stolen or damaged, and the thieves left quite a mess behind.
Laptops, an iPad, the security system and even toys were stolen from the facility after thieves broke in through the front windows using bricks. They ransacked papers, turned on water faucets and left them running, and even poured water all over many of the desktop computers.
The saddest part -- the thieves stole shelves full of toys that were going to be birthday presents for children that CASA serves.
It was around midnight when the alarm company got a call that the building had lost power and that there was some movement inside of the building. Police were dispatched to the building and CASA's executive director went to make sure everything was okay.
Once they were cleared, the director turned the power back on and they left the building. Later, the building lost power again, but the alarm company did not dispatch anybody.
CASA does have insurance, but their deductible is pretty steep. One other thing that thieves got away with is a projector they use this to do volunteer training -- training that they are supposed to hold Tuesday night.
Once word of the CASA break-in and vandalism got out, offers of help started pouring in. Some offered to create a reward fund, some set up websites to raise money. One person even dropped off a bag of toys.
Out of a bad situation, good often arises, and that analogy held true in this case. People were touched by the horrible act, and are now doing their part to help the organization rebuild.
"I heard what happened with the CASA organization," said Johnny Mendoza. "It's very unfortunate, but God sees everything."
"Well, it infuriated me, and it's a very despicable crime," said Freddie Ramirez of Pendgo Timing.
"The staff and the volunteers works so hard to do something that's just the right thing to do," former CASA staffer Heather Tijerina said. "CASA really is the definition of community."
Each one of these people stopped by the Kiii-TV studios to share their plans on how to help CASA. Tijerina, a former CASA volunteer and staff member, started a website to raise funds to help rebuild, repair and replace all of the stolen items; Freddy Ramirez, with Pendgo Timing, a local chip company, is offering $1,000 to help start a reward fund; and then there's Johnny Mendoza, known as the "claw man." He collected dozens of toys that he has won from those "claw machines," and like Freddy and Heather, he wants to give back.
"So if something as little as a stuffed animal might make them forget, even if it's just for a little while," Mendoza said.
3News shared the good news with CASA staff member Erin Aguirre.
"These are so awesome," Aguirre said. "We lost so many toys, just shelves on shelves of toys. Some of them hadn't even been distributed to our kids yet from Christmas, so this is definitely going to help us. This is such a blessing."
CASA served close to 400 children last year, with another 900 in their care. They represented children in close to 200 cases, all with the help of 147 volunteers.
If you would like to help CASA in its rebuilding efforts, every one of your dollars will help. To make a donation online, click here.
If you have any information that might help police find the ones responsible for the break-in and vandalism, please call Crime Stoppers at 361-888-8477.