Thieves Stop Disaster Relief Group Efforts


By Hilary LeHew
By Jared Roberts

MT. VERNON -- A Jefferson County charity group says thieves have temporarily put them out of business.

The Salem South Baptist Association has spent the last eight years traveling the country to help others after storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Now the group is facing it's own disaster.

"We are not equipped to respond to a storm at this time," said Salem South Baptist Association spokesman Don Bigham.

Bigham says someone managed to steal 11 chainsaws and a generator Memorial Day morning from the group's locked trailers.

Missions Director Henry Hall still can't believe anyone would do that to a not-for-profit organization.

"It's sad that we've reached the point where people will steal from anybody. The unit has only been used to help," said Hall.

However, Bigham believes the most disturbing thing about the situation is that the group cannot currently help anyone in need. Bigham estimates replacing all the equipment will cost more than $5,000.

"We simply do not know what the insurance process is going to amount to or how much it will be and so we're waiting on that and we're waiting on people that are interested in donating to offer help that way, too," explained Bigham.

In the meantime, Bigham asks the public to report any chainsaws they believe might belong to the group. He says the orange STIHL saws aren't hard to spot.

"They are marked with identifiable paint, then it is written upon them SSBA," added Bigham.

Hall says he's never seen anything like this in his more than 25 years with the association. He hopes to see the person or people involved in the theft brought to justice.

"They're gonna do other things and there's not reason to just keep letting them go if we can find who they are and stop them. That would be the best thing for the community," he said.

You can call the Jefferson County Crime Stoppers if you have any information on the crime. They're offering a $500 reward.
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