DeKalb campers plead with thieves to return stolen van



DECATUR, Ga. - A local nonprofit says part of its summer camp program may be canceled because thieves stole their van, which is the only transportation they have.

Channel 2's Erin Coleman went to the Austin Drive Community Development Center in DeKalb County, where organizers and children are pleading for someone to return their 14-passenger van.

"We use the bus to go to our field trips and then we use the bus. It had supplies in it like basketball and there was papers and chairs in there that we use," said 11-year-old Ashlynn Williams.

The van was parked in front of nearby Bethesda Cathedral. A law firm donated the van to the community center eight years ago. The small nonprofit can't afford to replace it. Now that it's gone, it means no more outings, and for many kids in the community, no way to get to camp every day.

"We pick the children up. We take them back home. We take them on field trips, education field trips to the library and that has all come to a stop," said Landa Gamble, an official at the center.

Senior citizens depend on the van for day trips, too.

"Whoever did this knows what they have done. The name is on the van. It says what the van is for," one senior said.

DeKalb police said they're looking for the van, but so far, no leads. People told Coleman they're devastated. Many kids now won't get the healthy lunch or the tutoring that comes with the program.

"These kids will be home not getting reading, not working on their math and so many academics will be missing," Gamble said.

Williams said whomever stole the van is inconsiderate. And she and the other kids want it back.

"They might have their reasons, but it didn't belong to them, so I think they should return it," Williams said.

UPDATE: The van was found Tuesday evening after Coleman's report.

Channel 2 Action News

Delivered To Your Inbox