A break-in over the holiday weekend has a Fresno foster care agency scrambling to replace more than $3,000 worth of property – including leftover Christmas presents intended for children taken from abusive homes.
“The presents were for kids who come in over the next few weeks,” Kids Kasa Foster Care CEO Brad Castillo said. “The kids we take in are sometimes abused and malnourished. They may not have had a Christmas.”
Castillo said the thieves tried to smash in the front door of the agency’s office at 1275 W. Shaw Ave. with a large river rock. The door’s glass is tempered, so it shattered but did not break.
They then used the rock to smash an 8-by-10-foot glass window. They stole a few laptops and all of the children’s gifts save one – a girl’s bike.
“They probably tried to take that, too, but maybe it didn’t fit,” Castillo said.
The damage to the door and window will cost another $1,000, Castillo said, bringing the break-in price tag up to around $4,000. He also plans to install an alarm system, which will be an added cost. A GoFundMe account has been established to collect donations, and by Tuesday afternoon $1,260 had been raised toward the $3,000 goal.
Kids Kasa works with social workers in Fresno and Madera counties to find homes for children removed from abusive situations. Kids Kasa trains and monitors foster parents, who provide homes for the children brought to the agency by county governments.
Between 60 and 80 kids are housed year-round, Castillo said. There were 62 foster children at Kids Kasa’s annual Christmas party, he said.
Castillo said the gifts and parties are paid for solely by donations, as laws prohibit the agency from using government funding for those expenses. Kids Kasa holds a half-marathon in Woodward Park every September to pay for the holiday gifts and parties and other expenses. This typically raises about $6,000 a year.
Castillo, a running coach, also offers four-month marathon training sessions to adults in exchange for a $100 donation to Kids Kasa.
The Fresno Police Department is investigating the break-in.
Lt. Carl McKnight, operations commander of the department’s northwest policing district, said these types of burglaries are common in the city. These cases are solved at a high rate, as thieves are either caught in the act or found transporting stolen property.
Business owners can protect themselves by keeping valuables out of sight of the front store window and installing video surveillance systems.