TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In 47 years, Capital Roots can confidently say they’ve never struggled with community crime, at least until 2022. “Whether it’s on our farm or at our 55 community gardens, it’s just not something that we have been subject to,” says CEO Amy Klein.
Suddenly, a string of thefts and vandalism plaguing this non-profit. Sunday, Director of Learning and Job Development Matthew Schueler says he arrived to tend to the farm on 8th Street in Troy when he discovered thieves had snuck in during the night.
“There is our tool shed over there that was broken into. You can see that it has a new hasp on it. We had to put a new lock on it,” he shows NEWS10 on Friday. “We were actually very upset. Yeah, I was — pretty much ruined my day.”
The thieves made off with several power tools used in the group’s pavilion project, a camping stove used to teach students cooking, and a brand new lawnmower the non-profit says they desperately needed.
“It was truly devastating for our team, that’s how best I can describe it. Most of our equipment is used and in various states of disrepair, so we don’t often get new equipment donated to us, and before it could even be used, it was stolen,” says Klein.
She also adds they’ve noticed vandalism to several Capital Roots vehicles this year.
“Several of our vehicles broken into. We’ve had two catalytic converters sawed off our vehicles,” Klein recalls to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
Troy police were unavailable for comment Friday, though an investigator said during a phone conversation there are no new leads. Klein and Schueler say with the summer education programs for Troy High School students approaching quickly, the multiplying misdeeds are disheartening, to say the least.
“The farm’s been respected by everyone as a place of, kind of a sanctuary for the students,” says Schueler. “Honestly, I’m disappointed.”
“For our team, it was very demoralizing. We are embedded in the community. We work with and for the community, and to have had this kind of, sort of breach of trust is really rough,” says Klein.
Fortunately, volunteers and donors have not been deterred — sending money and new tools to sweep the hard-working garden growers back on their feet via a GoFundMe. Schueler says Capital Roots plans to keep honoring their good spirits.
“It kept us going during the pandemic, and certainly no theft is going to stop us from doing our work or deter us,” she says.