Place of safety hit by break-ins

Greensleeves Place of Safety for children has been plagued by a spate of break-ins recently, having suffered four in one week.

The most severe of these led to the loss of an array of donated items, including all their winter blankets, clothes, toys and food which were stolen out of their two storerooms.

Greensleeves founder Dianne Lehy said nothing was stolen during two of the break-ins but still, the damaged locks, doors and safe cost over R20 000 to replace or repair.

CRIME SCENE: Greensleeves’ Dianne Lehy indicates where a storeroom was broken into. The thieves took most of the items donated including winter blankets, clothes, toys and food.
IMAGE: MADELEINE CHAPUT

“We’ve never had four breakins in just one week. We’ve really been tested to our limits,” said Lehy.

The organisation was founded in 1998 as a place of safety for children identified by Child Welfare, but many of these children cannot be placed into foster homes, and end up remaining at Greensleeves.

The organisation has now grown to include a school as well as a children’s home.

Between teachers, house mothers, cooks and caretakers, 20 staff members look after over 40 children.

“From monthly bills, salaries for staff members and teachers, to medical and living costs for the children, our monthly running costs come to about R170 000,” said Lehy.

Her safe, in her own home, was also tampered with during the second break-in, a day after the first.

“When we got home and found our safe had been broken I freaked because that’s where I keep all the children’s documents,” said Lehy.

SAD STATE: The broken locks and doors of the two storerooms that were broken into within days of each other at Greenslaves Place of Safety recently.
Picture: MADELEINE CHAPUT

Break-ins at the home started about six years ago. The children’s bicycles and the TV in the activity hall have all been stolen, as well as shoes and clothes from the boys’ house.

“During the initial break-ins, they smashed the windows and damaged the frames of one of our first classrooms near the bottom of the property. When they realised there were just children’s paintings, crayons, toys and books in there, they urinated on everything and made a mess,” said Lehy.

Greensleeves has already received generous aid from the public, who donated many items for the children, and from East Coast Security, who installed an alarm system in Lehy’s office.

“We’ve started with an alarm system where the computers and other equipment are. Our next step is to set up a camera system so we can identify the hot spots. We’d like to get a night guard in to patrol the property on a regular basis, so I’m trying to find sponsors for one of our guys to be set up permanently at Greensleeves,” said East Coast Security owner Johan Oelosse. “We’re a small business, but we’re trying to help out where we can.”

According to Oelosse, there have been no more break-ins at Greensleeves since they started visiting and setting up the security systems last week.

Lehy hopes East Coast Security’s presence on the property will continue to deter thieves.

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