Kids need stolen iPads back, group steps in to replace them

Kids need stolen iPads back, group steps in to replace them

WILSONVILLE, Ore. – Burglars have hit a local nonprofit school twice, stealing nearly a dozen iPads which is technology the students at the school depend on to help them learn.

Most of the iPads were stolen over the weekend during the latest in a series of burglaries at Victory Academy. On Thursday, a local non-profit group said they will pay to replace the stolen tablet computers.

The school is the only one in Oregon that specifically teaches kids with autism. The school's 28 students use specially-designed applications on the iPads to help develop speech and manual dexterity.

"They're able to type out their thoughts and feelings when maybe they can't say them verbally," said Thea Schreiber who works at the academy. "But then the iPad will say them verbally for them and so it gives these kids a voice where in the past they never had one."

Nothing was taken during a break-in at the school this past summer. But then in September thieves broke in again and stole two iPads.

The Bald Faced Truth Foundation said they would fund the replacement of the stolen iPads. Oregonian sports columnist John Canzano is president of the organization. Canzano said he saw the story on KATU News and the group's board quickly agreed to fund the replacement of the iPads.

The school installed some alarms but this past weekend the burglars were back. They kicked in the door to a locked room, broke open a charging cabinet and took another eight iPads.

"It's definitely hard to put into words. It's kind of like rips your gut apart to know that people would actually do that.  It's very disheartening to know that there's people out there that can actually do this," said Sven Aspen who has a son enrolled at Victory Academy. "These people must have no idea what they're doing and who they're doing it to because these kids are society's most vulnerable."

Until the new iPads arrive, children whose families have iPads are sharing them with other students. Money for the school to replace the iPads is tight. Outside of tuition, the only source of funding they have is their annual fundraiser in May at Portland's Benson Hotel.

The burglars apparently knew enough to not only know where the iPads were being stored – because no other rooms were broken into – but they also ripped the newly-installed alarm system off the wall inside the storage room.

Police don't have any leads in the burglary yet. They hope to track the stolen iPads if they're ever turned on and connected to the Internet.

We first learned about the thefts through a news tip. If there's news happening where you live, let us know. Send us an email to newstips@katu.com. Your email will go directly to our newsroom.