Future of horse therapy program in limbo after weekend burglary
WAIMANALO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Employees of a horse therapy program are distraught after losing more than $1,200 in an apparent burglary over the weekend.
The recently burglarized nonprofit, Therapeutic Horsemanship of Hawaii, offers horseback rides and training to people of all abilities, but employees also work with young children who have special needs.
"We offer a pretty amazing and unique experience here on the island," said Program Director Katie Jessup.
Jessup says she believes that the robbery occurred either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
"I showed up and I noticed that our office door was ajar, which it obviously shouldn't be," Jessup said.
Jessup said she found the pad lock on the office door intact, but the latch had been completely pried off. Inside she found several busted lock boxes used to store checks from clients.
"I came back to the barn here and when I opened the door here our cash box from our weekly lessons were gone as well as our phone that we use - the phone that is required to have on hand," she said.
Jessup believes it's possible that the thief is someone she's met.
"That's probably the most disheartening thing to me is that this was clearly a targeted thing. They knew exactly where to go. It wasn't like everything here was ransacked. They knew exactly what they were looking for," Jessup said.
Adding insult to injury, the group lost the money amid efforts to recover from financial setbacks incurred during historic flooding this spring.
In April, floodwater caused serious damage at the stable and nearby polo fields. A tractor was destroyed in the flood as well as the van used to bring animals to children and the elderly who can't travel.
"We haven't gotten that up and running again, so we don't have quite the outreach into the community as much as we can, but we always welcome people to come see us and check us out," Jessup said.
Those who want to help the struggling nonprofit can make a donation to the group's website.
Despite what happened, Jessup says the work her team does and the people they serve give her plenty to smile about.
"We always have a great community around us and I have no doubt that they are going to rally for this as well," Jessup said.
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