Crime, Fire + Courts

United Cerebral Palsy program reeling from iPad thefts

By From page A9 | February 28, 2014

A crucial skill-building program at the United Cerebral Palsy Association’s adult day center in Woodland has been derailed with the recent thefts of 13 iPads from the nonprofit care provider’s offices.

“It’s a pretty substantial blow to our clients,” said Doug Bergman, president and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy of Sacramento and Northern California. The thefts occurred during a break-in at the agency’s 1540 Tanforan Ave. facility on the night of Feb. 14.

The iPads were brand-new, obtained with grant money UCP received last summer, and had been loaded with programs that allowed even nonverbal clients to communicate by pointing to pictures on the tablet screens.

“They were providing communication and skill-building for our clients,” Bergman said. One client, who does not have the use of her arms, used her toes to operate the iPad, he added.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life,” Bergman said. “It’s become part of their day-to-day expectations, that they’re able to tap into technology as part of their skill-building, and that’s gone now.”

The burglary remains under investigation by Woodland police. Lt. Anthony Cucchi said the break-in, which the suspect or suspects committed by hurling a rock through a glass front door, is part of a rash of burglaries that has plagued the city in recent months.

No suspects have been identified, but Cucchi said investigators are looking into whether it’s connected to a burglary ring that led to the arrests of six people back in January.

“This could be a part of it,” Cucchi said, noting that some of the ring’s suspected players remain at large.

Each of the iPads was valued at about $800 once loaded with the skill-building programs and adapted to the special needs of the UCP clients, Bergman said. Insurance is expected to cover the loss, but it could take as long as 90 days for the claim to be processed.

“We can’t go out and just spend that money ourselves,” Bergman said.

He added that the agency would welcome donations of replacement iPads from the community, but cautioned that donors should first check with their financial advisers to determine whether the contributions would be tax-deductible.

Questions regarding possible donations should be directed to Steve Horton at UCP’s Sacramento offices, 916-565-7700.

Bergman said his agency has experienced no prior break-ins in the more than two decades that UCP has served clients in the Woodland area.

“It’s a great community to work with,” he said. “We’re fortunate that we’ve been able to offer our services up there.”

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene

Lauren Keene

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