The Animal Rescue Organisation (ARO) in Ottery was not able to take their much needed mobile services to communities such as Delft, Brown’s Farm, Nyanga, Gugulethu and others around the city for almost two weeks after a break-in last month.
Although there had previously been multiple break-ins to their mobile clinics, the latest break-in in the early hours of Sunday April 16 left them with significant material losses that hindered the organisation’s ability to protect and care for desperate animals, said Ashley Hartney, fundraiser for the organisation.
The thieves, with covered faces, disabled security and camera systems, cut electrical and telephone wires and stole two laptops, cellphones, two TV displays and a desktop used for their day-to-day operations and ransacked offices and the reception area.
Some other items that had been donated to the facility to generate some income for the organisation were also stolen including telescopes and TV sets.
“We serve very impoverished communities where people don’t have airtime to call us when there are animals that need care so we communicate via WhatApp and the driver’s use cellphones. We weren’t able to do so for over a week because there was no way the community could contact us.”
She said the facility is devastated by the loss, the second massive break-in in the last three years and although the facility has insurance it will only cover a small percentage of the stolen and damaged items and because the investigation is still ongoing there hasn’t been much repairs.
“The insurance will not cover all our losses unfortunately which puts us in a predicament because we need equipment to carry out our services. We are saddened that we as an organisation trying to help the community are being targeted over and over. It is heartbreaking because we are only trying to help,” said Ms Hartley.
Previously the organisation hired a security guard at night but because they are a non-profit organisation (NPO), they haven’t been able to secure the funds to employ a permanent guard.
“We depend on donations and funds and appointing a security guard is extremely expensive so we aren’t able to, which then leads to us being targeted.”
Their top priority is to replace the items that were stolen and to improve security measures to avoid another break-in.
The provincial police office confirmed a case had been registered and is being investigated by Philippi police and encouraged anyone with information to contact the station on 021 690 1536/ 1504/ 1500 or call crime stop on 086 00 10111 to leave an anonymous tip.
Anyone willing to donate funds, assist with security upgrades and equipment, laptops or cellphones to the ARO can contact 021 396 5511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com