Transport van stolen from Springfield afterschool center

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 9:17 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A Springfield afterschool center is looking for a missing van after it was stolen Monday night.

The group, Bridges for Youth, said this is the first time they have ever had one of their vehicles stolen.

“Yesterday I came out to gas up the van and I looked around and I thought, it’s gone,” exclaimed Steve Hare.

Hare has been working with kids after school for almost three decades, and part of his routine involves picking them up.

”We have a real blessing this afternoon and every afternoon after school. We have a lot of kids come into the Bridges Centers and we teach them about God and we teach them how to pray,” he said.

The group has served local children for 27 years. Hare said he loves helping students after school. The stolen van came as a bit of a shock.

“We’ve had lots of break-ins, vandalism, and catalytic converters stolen, you know everything else, but never had a van stolen,” Hare said. “So it kind of took us by surprise.”

Security cameras caught a glimpse of the moment someone drove off with it. The next morning, Hare said all that remained was a syringe sitting right where the van used to be.

Hare said he is mostly sad because donors helped pay for the van just a few years ago.

”I imagine 20 to 25 people came together and donated money so that we could buy that van,” he said. “So that’s really heartbreaking to see it gone.”

At the end of September, the Springfield Police Department reported 256 stolen vehicles this year. The Greene County Sheriff’s Office said it has had 4 this month.

”Lock your vehicles, don’t keep anything of value in your vehicles,” said Deputy Paige Rippee with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office. “Obviously if you have windows that aren’t tinted, or very lightly tinted, it’s very easy to see inside. Don’t leave your purse in your vehicle. Take things inside.”

Rippee said cooling temperatures often make the coming months a prime time for car thefts.

“Now that the weather is getting a lot cooler, you’re going to have multiple people try to go out in the early mornings to get their car warming up,” she said. “Vehicle thefts happen within five to 15 minutes of them starting their vehicle.”

Deputy Rippee said thieves sometimes will even try to steal cars with bump keys. She said people should always remain vigilant in their neighborhoods.

“If you see a vehicle in your neighborhood that looks like it doesn’t normally belong there, you can always call and we can always check,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of vehicle thefts lately where people are just walking through neighborhoods. They’re not even driving or they’re just riding bicycles.”

Rippee said she highly recommends motion sensors and security cameras.

Steve Hare hopes the security video helps police in their search, but he said he will not let this theft get in the way of their afterschool care.

”This one [van] we’re gonna have repaired tomorrow, so that we can use it,” Hare said. “And we’ll just do the best we can today to go pick the kids up.”

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