Landscaping equipment stolen from special needs staff at Charles - FOX Carolina 21

Landscaping equipment stolen from special needs staff at Charles Lea Center

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A truck full of landscaping equipment was stolen from a care facility in Spartanburg, which offers programs and services for people with special needs.

Spartanburg County deputies are working to figure out who did it.

Staff at the Charles Lea Center on Burdette Street noticed their trailer missing when they got to work Wednesday morning.

The center's executive director, Jerry Bernard, said that surveillance video showed thieves making moves sometime between 1 and 2 a.m.

He said the Green Lea program workers were frustrated that it was stolen but even more upset that they won't get to work.

"They take it personal, even when we try to tell them that there's things that happen in the world that aren't always great, they sometimes have difficulties understanding that individuals would do that," said Bernard.

Green Lea gives paying jobs to people with disabilities, plus job training. The intellectually disabled workers landscape the center's properties and also have other community projects.

Through the day, Spartanburg County investigators received a tip from an informant about where the truck could be, and they think they found much of the equipment plus other stolen goods.

It's a relief to Bernard, who can't imagine trying to raise the $13,000 again to get his crews back to work.

"It's a sad thing when you see things stolen that make it real difficult for people to make a living. If [the Green Lea team] can't work here, the chances are they're not going to have an opportunity for someone else," said Bernard.

Master Deputy Kevin Bobo said the thieves may have stolen the trailer to take what was inside but also to use the trailer to commit other crimes. He said one suspect is cooperating as the department continued to investigate.

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