A bike sits in front of the Operation Ukraine warehouse in Columbus at 803 Ninth St. S. The non-profit supplies food and toys to children overseas. The warehouse was burglarized Tuesday morning. Photo by: Zach Odom/Dispatch Staff
July 16, 2014 10:29:02 AM
A local non-profit organization was the victim of a burglary Tuesday morning.
Operation Ukraine was broken into just before 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to Columbus Police Department Investigations Commander Captain Brett Swan. Four bicycles were stolen from the organization's warehouse. Operation Ukraine is located at 803 Ninth St. S.
Kathy Cadden, founder and president of Operation Ukraine, said the bicycles were destined for children in Haiti. Two of the bicycles were intended for children of U.S. Embassy workers while the other two would have been given to the village for children to ride to school. The bicycles were specifically intended for the children in Haiti because of the features on the bike, Cadden said.
"These were good bikes," she said. "These weren't trash bikes. They were very good bikes. One of them was one of those trick bikes, you know, with the things you can stand on the back and a Haitian kid, if he had learned how to do stuff, he could make some money."
The bikes, which Cadden estimated cost $125 each, were delivered Saturday by an organization in Arkansas. At $500 in replacement costs, the bicycles will likely not be replaced unless they are donated, Cadden said.
"That's not a necessity right now because we're raising funds to ship humanitarian aid into Ukraine so all extra money is basically going there," she said.
Cadden said if the thieves had approached her and asked for the bikes, she would have given them the opportunity to work for them.
"If you need something, come in here and get it and work it off," she said. "We rarely turn anybody down for anything down here."
B.J. Harris has worked for Cadden for four years in exchange for goods. Harris said he was upset that people would steal from Cadden considering the work she does for the community.
"If I need me a bed or something, I'd be like, 'Ms. Kathy, I need help.' And she'd say, 'I tell you what. You can help and you can earn what you want,'" Harris said. "It don't make no sense. Ms. Kathy is a good person and you don't have to steal from nobody who helps other people."
Cadden left Columbus Tuesday afternoon headed to Haiti. She will be in the country for four weeks handing out 18 tractor-trailer trucks full of supplies.
Cadden said the break-in is an added stress to her relief efforts.
"It's another stress because somewhere down the road, I need to replace these bikes," she said.
The theft is currently under investigation by the police department.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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