UCAN Recovers From Burglary

By Yessenia Anderson

GRANTS PASS,Ore. — After losing thousands of dollars to a burglary earlier this year, a Josephine County non-profit is adjusting security measures as those criminals are let back out on the streets. As staff began to arrive to the two-story building, the first at work was met with an empty desk.

“We have a staff member who comes in fairly early. She reached to turn on her computer and it wasn’t there,” said UCAN Chief Operations Officer, Kelly Wessels.

Offials said as thousands of dollars worth of valuables were gone; other items, ready to be taken, still lined the hallways.

“Refrigerators, equipment, loaded bins…if it wasn’t nailed down it was in that line,” said Wessels.

The burglars were interrupted but still managed to take the majority of the technical devices, forcing UCAN to close for two days.

“We borrowed other agency offices, they did some work out on the parking lot just on cell phones trying to make things happen,” said Wessels. “It was a loss to our community.”

A community that rallied together to help the agency, which provides housing, food and utility assistance to the less fortunate.

“Offering their personal computers, offering not just their concern but saying we really appreciate who you are,” Wessels said of the community’s help.

Due to budget cuts at the county jail, those suspect are now back on the streets, but UCAN has implemented new security measures to make sure they never breach their doors again.

“A buddy-check system now, where people go in pairs to go through the building to make sure everything is where it needs to be before closing,” Wessels said.

UCAN officials said their focus is not to point blame or judgment.
“People who struggle and commit errors need our help too,” said Wessels.

They said it’s a lesson applicable to their workplace and their county’s situation.

“Heightens our awareness, makes us a little bit safer working environment, but at the same time it also shows cooperation among people,” said Wessels.

UCAN said they were able to retrieve a majority of their technical devices. Now, through local partners and donations, they are slowly getting back on their feet so they can help other do the same.