$20,000 of Theft and Damage at Boys and Girls Club
June 09, 2011
Police say over Memorial Day weekend, three young men stole computers, a TV, food, tools, equipment and vehicles from the Boys and Girls Club Technical Training Center in South Memphis.
The loss and property damage is estimated to be more than $20,000, according to the Boys and Girls Club.
All three stolen vehicles were found and returned, but serious damage makes them unsafe for use. The vehicles were used to take program participants to job interviews.
The 13 computers stolen were used as a critical part of the program in helping people ages 16 to 21 learn technical skills and create resumes.
One program participant, George Price, described the situation as "devastating. Like, I was speechless. What kind of person would do this to a community that is trying to help?" Price will be a senior in the fall at Central High School. With the help of the Boys and Girls Club, he was able to get a job at Back Yard Burgers this summer. When he thinks of the people who stole so much of their center resources, Price said, "Come on, man. It's just…a world, you have to fight. It's not easy." His fellow program participant, 16-year-old Tianna Stapleton said, "Just as I came up here and sat down and took my time to get a job, they could do the same thing."
Police have arrested two brothers, 22-year-old Jeremy Cribbs and 18-year-old Joshua Cribbs. They also arrested 20-year-old Wilbor Wilson. Jeremy Cribbs was also charged with possession of a prohibited weapon.
The technical training facility's executive director, Joe Sing, thinks of these men as exactly the people who would have been welcomed into their center. "What we're all about is preventing exactly what happened here. We're trying to teach these young people to go out, get a career, and make family-sustaining income so they don't have to resort to criminal acts," Sing said. Sing showed News Channel 3 the damage to the vehicles and stolen tools, which have now put their automotive classes on hold. The reduction in number of computers has also affected every student in the program. Many of those machines stored their resumes.
Mark Giannini, a central board member for the organization, is also the C.E.O. of Service Assurance, a technology company. Upon hearing the news, Giannini decided to donate 40 computers to expand the program. He said he's acutely aware of this resource as a means for young people to find themselves employment. Most of the participants do not have access to computers outside of the facility. Of the crime, Giannini said, "It's a horrible reflection on the desperation of the people who did it. I don't condone any type of stealing, but to steal from a club that would have welcomed them and helped them learn to do better is tragic."
In addition to culinary and automotive classes, the center teaches participants "soft skills," like how to dress and speak professionally when seeking a job. This year, all seniors in the program but one graduated from high school. Tiffanie Grier works to place these young people in jobs for the summer and beyond. This year, she has successfully placed about 50 students. Grier was the one who found the place broken into, with glass everywhere. "I was really shocked and surprised. I really thought that well, this is why this program is in place. This is why we provide opportunities for students in this community so they can know there are economic opportunities available to them, and they don't have to go out and steal," Grier said.
The center's insurance will not cover the whole cost of the damage and loss. Anyone wishing to help connect with the participants in the job placement program, or anyone wishing to make a donation can call their central office at (901) 278-2947. They can also email firstname.lastname@example.org