Thieves steal thousands from Portland non-profit

Thieves steal thousands from Portland non-profit

PORTLAND, Ore. - Thieves broke into a non-profit that builds computers for people who can't afford them, stealing about $4,500 worth of hardware early Saturday.

Volunteers said it was a big setback for the group, which calls itself Free Geek, as well as the schools and community organizations they serve.

"It's really heartbreaking," said Marie Deatherage, who sits on the group's board of directors. Because the non-profit operates on such a tight budget, the crime "is a devastating blow to Free Geek," she said.

The thieves made off with laptops, laptop RAM, LCD screens and high-end Apple computers and damaged a number of doors at the organization's southeast Portland workshop, which is located at 1731 S.E. 10th Ave.

"The real money was in the laptops," said staff member Richard Seymour.

The laptop program provides Free Geek with income and provides free laptops to local non-profits, according to the organization's Web site.

"This source of funding and hardware will be missing for awhile as we build up our supply," a statement on the Free Geek site said.

For those who have donated hard drives, officials said there's no danger that thieves could steal personal information off of them. That's because Free Geek makes it a priority to clear out hard drives as they come in, officials said.

The organization is calling for extra donations to make up for the ones stolen. They also hope people may spot the stolen equipment.

"Keep an eye out for laptops for sale in Portland loaded with Ubuntu Linux: if you see one of these, please call us! " the organization said on its Web site.