Arizona Lottery steps in to help non-profit organization that was victimized by thieves

Thousands of dollars worth of items are stolen from a Valley non-profit during a burglary, and now, the Arizona Lottery is stepping up to help them recoup their losses.

The Centers for Habilitation serves adults with disabilities, and some of the items stolen are meant for a limited population.

The incident happened in September 2020 at the center's main campus in Tempe. Now, eight months after what happened, CEO Jeff Bernick is still in disbelief.

"Here was are a non-profit taking care of disabled adults with a very compelling mission, and to face that additional obstacle, you know, we were really dejected and we sort of lost a little faith in humanity, frankly," said Bernick.

Surveillance footage taken at the time captured what appears to be a long-bed silver truck driving by. Bernick says the thief or thieves got away with power tools, catalytic converters, and three specialty bikes.

"You know, the money was one thing. The sentimentality and the meaning of those bikes, and all the memories created for our population, frankly, was a bigger loss than the dollars," said Bernick.

Fortunately, with the help of the community, the center was able to get new bikes, which includes a surrey bike and four adult trikes.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Lottery donated $25,000 through their give back sponsorship program.

"You know, the Arizona Lottery is about giving back. These organizations are about giving back," said Arizona Lottery spokesperson John Gilliland. "There is this synergy. We are on the same team and when we see a teammate that suffers, we want to step in and help because we are all pulling together to move all of us forward."

With the money donated, the center was able to make some upgrades around the property, like installing touchless water fountain stations, plexiglass barriers, security lighting and better surveillance cameras.

"We hope that the little we've been able to do for the Centers of Habilitation will prevent anything like this to happen in the future," said Gilliland.

No arrests have been made in connection with the burglary incident. Anyone with information should call Tempe Police.

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