Children's brand new laptops for homeschooling stolen during break-in at Camp Fire Hut, Ardmore police searching for suspects
A local youth organization’s facility was broken into sometime this week. The suspects reportedly trashed the building and stole five laptops a group of children had been working all summer to purchase and use for homeschooling.
Camp Fire, which sprung up in Ardmore in 1969, serves as a co-ed youth organization similar to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Camp Fire Regional Manager Margaret Gilbert said the organization’s meeting facility, the Camp Fire Hut, had been vacant most of the summer due to COVID-19.
On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 8, Gilbert’s daughter stopped by the facility with her five children and husband and were surprised to find the facility completely trashed. “She came here at about 11 a.m. yesterday and called me and said that we had been broken into. The office was just completely upended,” Gilbert said.
Ardmore police were dispatched to the facility shortly after. Five laptops estimated at around $500 each, around $100 in cash and a pending deposit were reported stolen, making the total estimated loss around $2,600. The suspects also made off with some candy. “Ironically they ate my daughter’s jolly ranchers, except for the blue ones, and they took her chapstick— that made her mad,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert said her grandchildren had formed a lawn mowing business over the summer called Longhorn Lawn Care to earn the funds to purchase the laptops. The children had left all five brand new Chromebooks at the Camp Fire Hut since their homeschool classes were set to begin on Sept. 9.
“They mowed yards all summer and saved their money to buy their own Chromebooks for school,” Gilbert said. “All of the kids would go out with their dad and their mom and they mowed yards and collected the money and then they divided the money up because there’s five of them.”
Whenever the community heard about what had happened, some individuals, who wished to remain anonymous, stepped up to help the children get new laptops. Gilbert said five new laptops have already been provided for the children after the break-in.
“We had some wonderful people step up and say they want to help,” Gilbert said. “For every negative in life, positive outshines.”
APD Capt. Claude Henry said no suspects have been identified at this time and the incident is still under investigation. “We were able to come across some physical evidence that will be processed and we’re hoping that we can develop leads in this case from that,” Henry said.
Gilbert said all of the locks on the building have been replaced and security cameras are going to be installed this week. Camera systems are one of the best ways for businesses to protect themselves and their property, Henry said.
“Camera systems are relatively inexpensive nowadays and I think that really goes a long way and that really helps us in our investigation whenever we’re trying to solve these types of burglaries,” Henry said, adding that regular maintenance on alarm systems also helps protect businesses and helps police respond faster.
Gilbert said she hopes that the people responsible are caught and the organization plans to press charges. “If they’re caught we will press charges. It’s a violation, but it’s a violation against children. Everybody knows that this is a kids organization,” Gilbert said. “I would love for them to be caught and it’s just a shame is what it is.”