Vandals victimize nonprofit helping ex-felons in Frayser

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Frayser nonprofit says it was targeted, becoming victims of the crime it works to tackle.

Blight Patrol, part of Lifeline to Success, is a program working to get former felons back to being productive citizens.

You may have seen them out and about in their bright green shirts. They're out mowing yards, cleaning up neighborhoods but now their jobs have become more difficult.

"It just makes me mad," Pastor Deandre Brown said Thursday morning.

The nonprofit's executive director is angry after the steering columns to three of the trucks used to haul landscaping equipment were destroyed.

"They go in the morning and crank the trucks up, warm them up, make sure their fluids are checked. Went to check the fluids and the steering column is busted," he said.

Several other vehicles were also rummaged through. Brown said they normally feel secure at their location and didn't lock their vehicles.

"We've never had this problem. We're nine years in and never had this problem. I don't know if it's children, somebody is new to the neighborhood because people in the neighborhood know who we are," Brown explained.

Brown believes the vandalism, caused by someone trying to steal the trucks,  will set the nonprofit back a few thousand dollars for repairs but there's more.

"So since it's raining and our workload has decreased they're now costing us money. We're a nonprofit but we're funded not through donations but through contracts. So we're contractors so they've affected our ability to work. What frustrates me is we offer opportunities to people."

While they're frustrated, Lifeline to Success says they won't let this incident keep them from helping others, saying this to the person responsible.

"Just knock on the door and let me help you because it makes no sense. Because you're putting your life at risk breaking into people's things. So if they knocked on the door today and said, 'I'm sorry.' they can come into the program," Brown said.

Lifeline to Success says they are making security changes to prevent incidents like this in the future.

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