WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Police are looking for clues after vandals broke into the Treasure Coast YMCA's Bayshore After School Care site in Port St. Lucie Tuesday morning. The YMCA said this is the third time in a month it has been targeted.
YMCA workers knew something was wrong when they arrived at work and found the safety glass smashed out of the building's front doors. Inside, the building was even worse. Vandals had bashed huge holes right through the walls.
"There was a clock hanging there," said YMCA Executive Branch Director Audra Mariz, gesturing to a sizable hole near the front door. "They used shovels they found in our utility closet and stuck them into the wall. It was like a hurricane hit."
Vandals smashed the flat screen TV and splattered paint and food all over the walls. Every light fixture was punched out. The bathrooms are worse.
"The vanities are ripped apart," explained Mariz, opening the door to what was the girls' bathroom. "The mirrors are smashed. The toilets are smashed. They stuck shovels in the wall."
No one knows how long dirty water from the toilets was spilling. It was possibly hours based on several inches of standing water that ruined the computers when it flooded the floors and soaked into the carpet. Cleaning crews said it all has to go.
"The contaminants of the glue and the toilet, you really can't say that it's clean water," said Glen Smith with Restoration America."
This all happened less than a month after vandals set the YMCA's bus on fire, not once, but twice.
"They pulled out the wires that were under the dash and above the console and went into the hood and pulled out stuff in the engine," said YMCA bus driver Dave Dickhart.
YMCA workers said that was bad enough, but this affects the people they care about most: the 45 to 50 children who come here every day.
"The only people it hurts are kids and why would you want to hurt kids?" said Mariz. "They're coming here to be safe and have fun."
The YMCA will make sure they have fun at another location, while they take on the big job of restoring what they've lost.
"It's sad, very sad," said Karen Apgar.
Apgar sends her daughter to the YMCA's after school program. She can't understand why anyone would vandalize the YMCA.
"I need the after care only for a short while," she admitted, "but some parents need it for quite a while and on Friday, there's no school. They're going to have to find somewhere for Friday."
The YMCA has notified parents that the before and after school programs will meet at the Sons Of Italy's location nearby. Port St. Lucie Police still don't have any leads. If you have any information about what happened, call police or call Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-8477 or go to www.tcwatch.org.
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