Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa's Community Stepping Stones has thousands worth of technology stolen from Sulphur Springs arts program

TAMPA — A Sulphur Springs nonprofit that helps at-risk youth learn through art is reeling after thousands of dollars worth of technology was stolen from its office and classroom space on E River Coast Street.

For just over a decade, Community Stepping Stones has been using art classes and projects to teach children — from age 5 all the way through high school — how to be successful as adults. The program's students have painted murals across the city and even gone on to college.

Despite losing what the group estimates at between $5,000 to $10,000 worth of computers and other electronics, the nonprofit's board chair Karen Frashier said students should still show up for regularly-scheduled classes and programs.

She said this setback won't stop them from helping children.

"We're a small community nonprofit expanding and doing very well to expand our programs," she said, "but to do that we have to have technology for our program directors to work with.

"I won't pretend it will be easy for us to replace that."

Executive director Nestor Ortiz said he arrived at work Monday around 8:30 a.m. and noticed the door was unlocked. When he walked inside the office, he saw the staff's computers were missing. He noticed a broken window in the back of the building and called police.

Tampa police are investigating the burglary, said spokeswoman Andrea Davis. She said three computers, two printers and a television were stolen. A small amount of petty cash was also taken.

"We're just looking at getting some semblance of a peace of mind for us," Ortiz said. "This can happen anywhere, and it has."

The organization has insurance on the building and for accidents, but not theft. Ortiz said the group couldn't afford insurance that included protection from theft.

He said external hard drives that contained the nonprofit's records and grant applications were also stolen, and that data will be hard to recoup. But since grants paid for that equipment in the first place, Frashier said it will be harder to use those same grants to replace what was stolen. She said the group is seeking community support and donations.

Linda Saul-Sena, a former City Council member and current Community Stepping Stones board member, said Tuesday she was taking an extra printer from her house to donate to the group.

"(The program) absolutely has changed some kids' lives," Saul-Sena said. "Why would someone do this during the holidays?"

Contact Sara DiNatale at or (813) 226-3400. Follow @sara_dinatale.

Tampa's Community Stepping Stones has thousands worth of technology stolen from Sulphur Springs arts program 12/16/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 8:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.