Community Living Cambridge might be right next door to the local detachment of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, but that didn't stop thieves from making off with the charity's wheelchair accessible van on Friday in a brazen daylight theft.
To add insult to injury, an employee of the charity actually saw the thieves in the act, but failed to report the incident because it was assumed the people inside the vehicle had booked it on an outing.
"It's used so that people can have full and inclusive lives," said Denise Gruber, executive director of Community Living Cambridge, adding the stolen, two-toned, grey 2006 Ford Econoline van was one of six vehicles owned by the charity.
Gruber said the charity has been struggling to meet clients' needs since the van was stolen and has been forced to cancel family and doctor visits as well as job opportunities for clients as the organization juggles the same number of clients with fewer vehicles.
To make matters worse, Community Living can't afford a new one.
'It's a very sad situation here and rather deplorable circumstances.' - Olaf Heinzel, spokesperson for the Waterloo Regional Police
"The difficulty is we're a non-profit agency, so to make these kinds of large purchases only happen very rarely. We take care of our vehicles and keep them in great shape because we need them to last for a very long time."
The modified van is valued at about $60,000 and the organization was hoping it would last for another seven or eight years before needing to be replaced, said Gruber.
"It's not even within our schedule for replacement for a number of years to come."
Investigation into theft is ongoing
Police are investigating the theft, but told CLC that it is unlikely it will be recovered.
"It's a very sad situation here and rather deplorable circumstances," said Olaf Heinzel, spokesperson for the Waterloo Regional Police.
"This agency is trying to do good. We have people in the community who need this service and we're doing our best to try and resolve it."