Reading after-school program hit by burglars

February 17, 2011 3:01:36 PM PST
A Berks County after-school program is temporarily closed after thieves broke in, made a mess, then made off with some valuable equipment.

Stephanie Piccone knew something was wrong soon as she walked into the Berks County chapter of Campfire USA in Reading earlier this week.

Someone had tried to force the front door, the alarm was beeping and the place was freezing because someone had succeeded in breaking in through a back window.

The upstairs computer lab was pretty much wiped out. A few older pieces were left but the newer stuff that the kids used for homework was gone.

"The modem was taken, the wireless routers were taken," said Piccone.

None of the food was taken, but a convection oven was. The thieves apparently wrapped the electronics in cotton batting, put it in plastic bags and then, Piccone thinks, wheeled it away in one of the center's own trash bins.

"I just want the person who did this to know what they've done. They are hurting the kids in the community, putting them out of a place to go that's trying to keep them off the street," Piccone said.

The bad guys also knew how to prevent the alarm from notifying the security company. On Thursday a worker arrived to make the system more robust.

The center is operated by Campfire USA. Baby-boomers may recall the organization's many tv spots decades ago when they were known as "The Campfire Girls." The group is now co-ed.

This after school program is closed until what was taken is replaced.

"We're trying to stay positive and move on from this and, basically rebuild," Piccone said.

Anyone with information on this crime is urged to contact Reading Police.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in making a donation to help out, contact the Berks County office of Campfire USA at 610-856-7250.