When thieves stole four computers, a fax machine and stacks of backup disks from a South Pasadena nonprofit organization, they also stole important data used to supply money to more than 70 schools in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and San Bernardino counties.
Project KidsCan, an organization that helps schools develop recycling programs and raise money for equipment, was burglarized on Oct. 2, leaving employees without vital information on participating elementary, middle and high schools.
The burglary "really put a kink in our operations," said Dana Richdale, executive director of Project KidsCan. "What really made it hard on us was the fact that the backup disks were also taken."
Pacific Bell donated one computer after the burglary but Project KidsCan is still short three IBM-compatible computers and a fax machine.
On Friday night, sheriff's deputies arrested a 21-year-old Glendale man on suspicion of possession of stolen property. George David Freie had a computer and several fax machines in his possession, Sheriff's Deputy Robert Pryor said. The computer might belong to Project KidsCan, Pryor said, but the investigation is continuing.
Employees of the year-old organization pick up aluminum cans and plastic bottles collected by students and keep track of the money earned from recycling them. At the end of the year, the money is given to the schools and used to purchase equipment. La Verne Heights Elementary School teacher Wendy Frankel said students at the school raised $1,300 last year through Project KidsCan. The money was used to buy new printers for the school's computer lab, she said.
Students bring in their bottles and cans on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month and Project KidsCan picks up the recyclables the same day. Although La Verne Heights has only had two pickups this year, it has already made $300, Frankel said.
Project KidsCan can be reached at (800) 648-5437.