HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Harris County investigators are searching for a thief who committed a lot more than auto theft. A cargo van from Brightway Adult Day Center in Northwest Houston was stolen, and the list of what was taken along with it is extensive.
Without this van a number of people who suffer physical and mental disabilities will lose a great deal of freedom and won't have access to a place they've come to love.
Brightway Adult Day Center workers returned from the long holiday weekend finding the van was gone. It’s a major loss for some who already don't have a whole lot to give.
“Coming here, I get to get out of the house. We have a lot of different activities. You get to meet new people,” explains 26-year-old Kayla.
Those coming together at Brightway say the facility is much more than a community center. For many, it's a lifesaver.
”If it wasn't for this place I know I'd be in prison, dead,” explains Bobby Brooks.
”All of them have some sort of mental health and or physical disability,” Brightway director Koko Ugbala explains.
”This place helps me cope with everything. I've overcome a lot of things, homelessness for 20, 30 years, prison 15 years,” adds Brooks.
Brightway has been helping people just like Bobby Brooks for three years now. This year they're off to a tough start. The center uses two cargo vans to transport mentally and physically disabled individuals to the center to socialize for the day.
”A lot of them don't have family and we pick them up from group homes,” says Ugbala.
Transportation is now limited since their blue 15-seater Ford Econoline cargo van was stolen from the parking lot over the holiday weekend.
”It's really just disheartening. It's sad that someone would take from the disabled,” says Ugbala.
A number of people who usually come here now can't.
”If it wasn't for this place, somewhere to come, I would be like totally back to my old ways, drug addiction” says Brooks.
”When they're not busy doing things like getting counseling, doing therapeutic activities, working with the nurses, the therapists, they might end up back on the street,” explains Ugbala.
She hopes the van thief will find it in his or her heart to return it, when they realize how much the van is needed.
”I feel like people here care for me. I feel love here and I learned how to give love now. I didn’t have that at first,” says Brooks.