Criminals target Vancouver center for the deaf, costing thousand - KPTV - FOX 12

Criminals target Vancouver center for the deaf, costing thousands in damage

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Some of the damage left behind at a Vancouver center for the deaf that was burglarized. (KPTV) Some of the damage left behind at a Vancouver center for the deaf that was burglarized. (KPTV)

Why would anyone target a center that helps people who are deaf and hard of hearing?

That’s the question a lot of people are asking, after one such center in Vancouver was just targeted for the third time.

Early Monday morning, someone broke a window in a side door and popped a lock at the Southwest Washington Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

A camera, a few keys and some USB drives were all that was taken, but whoever did it went on a spree inside the building smashing several glass door panels, computer monitors and a TV screen. A chair was also slashed and a fire was apparently started in an office garbage can. Luckily, the fire didn’t spread.

“It’s a sad moment,” CEO Terese Rognmo told FOX 12 through an interpreter. “Why here at the center, what have we done? What have we done wrong?”

It’s not the first time the center has been targeted.

In May, someone vandalized upper windows by spray-painting offensive images.

Then a month or so later, Rognmo was working when she saw two young teenage boys throw rocks through a back office window.

“Fortunately there were curtains that protected me from actually getting hit by the stones,” she said.

It’s not clear whether the same people are behind all three cases.

Whoever broke in Monday also ripped out the DVR system controlling the security cameras that were installed after the rock-throwing incident, apparently in hopes of deleting any trace of video that may come back to them.

Still, the center has forwarded the equipment to the Vancouver Police Department for inspection.

“I’m afraid the deaf community is going to be afraid they’re being targeted or it’s not a safe place to come to this facility anymore,” Rognmo said.

The center serves roughly 125 people, connecting them with resources for housing, food, social services and practical devices like specialized telephones and alarm clocks.

Rognmo said it’s the only center serving the deaf community in southwest Washington, and no such centers exist in Oregon, so the services they provide are desperately needed.

The nonprofit has insurance, but it doesn’t cover burglary or vandalism. That means they’re on the hook for thousands of dollars to repair and replace the damaged items.

“We don’t have a lot of funds to cover these expenses, these damages,” she added. “Until those who are caught, we’ll go ahead and have them pay for it. Hopefully they’ll be caught, but we don’t know. Right now we’re kind of in a rut.”

A GoFundMe account been set up to support the center. The center would also appreciate donations of things like computer monitors and supplies to replace what was lost.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Vancouver Police.

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