AUSTIN - Having an Austin Police officer dust the office for fingerprints was not how the staff of the Young Women's Christian Association of Greater Austin (YWCA) expected to start their day Monday.
"We just want to make everyone, you know, have a safe space and to have our space intruded on was not a pleasant feeling coming in," said Emily Taggart, the YWCA's Community Specialist.
For nearly 110 years, the YWCA has worked to eliminate racism and empower women by providing counseling, life skill classes and other services, many of which are now offered at the YWCA office located on the I-35 frontage road near Oltorf.
"People start coming in and they're waiting and we're having to explain to them that, you know, here we are trying to keep them safe and we ourselves have been violated," said Clinical Director Laura Gomez-Horton.
The office closed Wednesday evening for the Thanksgiving holiday and re-opened Monday morning.
"It was one of our staff people who walked in and she noticed that drawers were open and keys were missing," said Executive Director Angela-Jo Touza-Medina. "And from there, you're like 'Huh, I wonder what happened?' She started to walk around the office area and she realized that other rooms had been rummaged through."
Staff said the thief or thieves stole an iPad, keys and got into the mailboxes. They also broke into a locked room and pried off the door of the locked file cabinet revealing the cash box.
"Part of the cash box was in here and then part was just laid out on the table with all the money gone," saod Gomez-Horton.
Staff estimate more than $4,000 was stolen; money that's used to pay for the services.
"It is a lot," said Touza-Medina. "$250 provides a family or an individual 10 counseling sessions. That is a lot of counseling sessions. The community at large, one counseling session might cost $120."
Now, they not only need to make-up for what was taken but also come up with money to prevent it from happening again.
"We need to change all the locks in our office and that's $50 a lock," said Touza-Medina. She also said the YWCA would like to invest in a safe and secure it's entryway with cameras.
The YWCA isn't the only office in the SouthCliff building. It also houses a branch of the State Comptroller's Office. A spokesperson with the office said it was also broken into, adding files containing personal information remained secure and were not stolen.
The YWCA said it's client files were also secure and not touched.
Anyone with information on the burglary is asked to call 311 and file a report for the Austin Police Department.
GO HERE for more information on how to donate to the YWCA.
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