Nonprofit for disabled robbed

A thief broke into at least three businesses on A Street, including a nonprofit that helps disabled people, and stole thousands of dollars of electronic equipment last weekend.

A unidentified man pulled out an air conditioning unit set in a window at the Disabled United in Direct Empowerment office at 256 A St. at about 2 a.m. on Sunday, security videos show, said Victoria Law, the owner of the building.

"Everyone I talk to says, 'How could someone steal from a disabled organization?'" she said. "I think it's awful."

The man stole about $5,000 worth of electronic equipment — including a laptop computer, two video cameras and a projector — which the nonprofit used to make videos to advocate for legislation that aids disabled people.

"We're devastated and we're operating on a shoestring as it is," said Corrine Vieville, executive director of DUDE.

The thief also broke into at least two other businesses in the complex — the Ashland Historic Railroad Museum and a media production office — and took computers, Law said.

Police are investigating four reports of burglaries and one of vandalism that occurred in the 200 block of A Street on Sunday. More information was not immediately available.

Law said she is hopeful the man will be caught, especially because of the security footage, which she is considering posting on YouTube, an Internet video site. The footage was not available as of this morning.

Meanwhile, the burglary has left DUDE without the tools it needs to apply for grants, push for legislation or film its Rogue Valley Community Television show, "In Progress," Vieville said.

"We're at a stop for being able to do live filming for video," she said.

The nonprofit hopes to make up for its loss at its annual fundraiser, which will be held at 5 p.m. on Oct. 2 at the Ashland Food Cooperative's Community Classroom. For more information call 779-5151 or e-mail

The Ashland Historic Railroad Museum, also a nonprofit, is looking for a donation of a used laptop computer, so workers can continue to apply for grants and manage the museum, Law said.

Bill Hahey, a member of DUDE's board of directors, said he was saddened by the burglary because it means the nonprofit may not be able to help as many people this year.

"I felt bad for the people that get served," he said. "What we get is the opportunity to do it, but then somebody takes away all that work and hurts all these people."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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