A school created to help young men and women finish their education is now in search of help itself.
Thieves broke into the Cloud & Fire YouthBuild Charter School in Van Nuys on Oct. 25, stealing computers and a van, and causing extensive damage from which the facility is trying to recover.
“It impacted us a lot. They took 16 computers, 10 desktops and six laptops the students used for their projects,” said Marycarmen Moran, who is in charge of communications and community relations for the school.
“We were already short by about 20 computers and now we’re much worse. Students now have to take turns using the computers we have left,” Moran added.
The school first noticed the theft when staffers showed up to work on Monday, Oct. 27.
“The first person who showed up saw that the door had been forced open and when he went inside he saw everything was on the floor and the computers were gone. We called police and they showed up to investigate,” Moran recounted.
The school serves 16- to 25-year-olds who did not finish high school or can’t attend Los Angeles Unified Schools District campuses. A total of 140 students attend school Monday through Friday.
“A lot of them are single mothers, people of limited resources, so they don’t have a computer at home to do their work and need the computers here to do their projects,” Moran said.
The school began as an afterschool program 15 years ago. Five years ago it became a charter school.
They are located on the first floor of an office building along Van Nuys Boulevard, near the corner with Vanowen Street.
The school van was in the building’s parking lot. It was found three days later. police took custody of it as the investigation continues.
“We don’t know the condition it’s in,” Moran said.
She said the main concern right now is the damage left behind inside the school. “They threw a lot of things on the floor. The computers they didn’t steal, they damaged,” Moran said.
Thieves also damaged office furniture they tried to open, Moran said. And they stole or damaged musical instruments belonging to a Christian congregation that uses the school on the weekends.
Moran estimates the total damages at around $18,000.
The computers are covered by insurance, so the school will get some assistance in purchasing new ones. But they may not be able to replace all the units stolen.
That’s why they’re appealing to the community for help.
“If you have a used Windows XP computer or laptop still in good working condition, or if you would like to donate for computers, you can make a big difference in our students,” Moran said.
If anyone has any information that might lead to an arrest, please call the LAPD Van Nuys Division, (818) 374-9500. To help the school, you can contact Marycarmen Moran at (818) 782-2911, ext. 17, or visit www.cloudandfire.org.