Theft at computer refurbisher Reboot Vancouver leaves staff 'devastated'

A non-profit organization that refurbishes computers and sells them at affordable rates for low-income people has been broken into, the latest in a string of thefts targeting charities in Metro Vancouver.

Almost a dozen charities have been stolen from in Metro Vancouver in the past three months

Guy Wakeman with Reboot Vancouver says he's 'devastated' by two recent break-ins. (CBC)

A non-profit organization that refurbishes donated computers has been broken into; the latest in a string of thefts targeting charities in Metro Vancouver. 

"I came in and all I saw was a mess in the back ... our back door was open and pretty much everything we had in the back was gone," said Guy Wakeman with Reboot Vancouver, a non-profit that sells its refurbished computers at affordable rates for low-income people.

"We're here to help people and we're being taken from. We can't help people if we don't have the stuff."

Reboot's small shop on East Hastings Street was broken into twice last weekend. Wakeman said the thefts have set the organization back nearly $10,000; he said the organization can't afford insurance.

"Devastated. Heartbroken. There's no real words on how I felt about it," he said.

Reboot's customers are also upset by the break-in. 

Kat Norris said she has lupus and can only work part time. She said she was shocked to find out the laptop she was hoping to buy has been stolen. 

"They have to be pretty desperate and callous to attack a business that supports people on a fixed income," said Norris. 

Spate of charity thefts

Reboot Vancouver isn't the only charity that's been hit by thieves recently. Since November, nearly a dozen organizations have been targeted. 

The B.C. Cancer Foundation that was hit twice over the holidays, and a Langley food bank was stolen from three times in three days in December. 

Reboot Vancouver refurbishes donated computers and sells them at affordable rates for low-income people. (CBC)

Security specialist Ozzie Kaban said there are many precautions charities can take to stay safe. The first: doing a background check on employees and volunteers. 

"There's a lot of people, they basically thrive on being able to go in, see what's happening, and have the inside run for a theft," Kaban said. 

He also recommends charities install alarm systems and cameras.

Wakeman said those types of precautions are too expensive for the organization's tight budget. Instead, they are relying on more locks and the police to keep thieves away.

To make up for its lost stock, the non-profit is asking those with an old computer to spare, to consider donating it. 

With files from Kiran Dhillon


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