The Latino Academy of Workforce Development, located inside of the Bridge Lake Point Waunona Neighborhood Center on Madison’s southeast side, was broken into and robbed overnight on Monday night or Tuesday morning and 18 laptops were stolen along with a significant amount of cash.
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“It’s really concerning that our space was violated,” Latino Academy of Workforce Development Executive Director Baltazar De Anda Santana tells Madison365. “We are asking ourselves, ‘why did this happen?’ Why would a person violate a place of education and what does it mean to our students, our staff, and our community?”
The Latino Academy of Workforce Development, serving a primarily Latino population in the Madison area, offers a variety of programs including job training and certification, workplace safety training, computer classes, GED programs and English as a Second Language. The staff morale, De Anda Santana says, is a little bit down right now, but it’s getting uplifted by positive responses from the greater community.
“We will be able to continue and we will be strong and resilient. Yes, they violated us, but if they think that this is affecting us, they are so very wrong,” De Anda Santana says. “We’re a strong organization and we’re a strong community. What was really great about this is that when people found out about this, they were calling to see what we need.”
De Anda Santana says that the police believe that the robber(s) broke through a window. “Once they were in, they found some keys and that’s how they were able to access all of the offices,” De Anda Santana says. “They did break one of the doors to access one of the places where we have petty cash.”
Right now, they don’t know who they did it. But, earlier today, the stolen laptops were found stashed in containers in an unoccupied apartment nearby, police said.
The approximately $3,500 that was stolen is still missing, however.
“Bridge Lakepoint just had a fundraising event and they had $1,000. They also went into the place where I had my cash for the [Latino Academy] program,” De Anda Santana says. “Since we just started registrations, we had students’ fees that were stolen. All of that added to the neighborhood of $3,500.”
De Anda Santana says that it is troubling that they put the money in different places, so nobody knew where the money would be. Yet, somebody still knew exactly where to go.
“My biggest concern is that this person knew where the money was and that worries me,” he says. “They did not look in any other places; they went directly to where they thought the money was.”
De Anda Santana says that he and the Latino Academy and the Bridge Lake Point Waunona Neighborhood Center are refusing to let this incident deter them or slow down their mission and that he is very appreciative of the community support they have received so far.
“Our place of education and training was violated but we are going to overcome this and we are very grateful to the community for their support during these tough times,” he says. “They took the laptops, the took the money, but they did not take our dignity.“