Thief makes off with jackets of mentally challenged

Dave Mathieson
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Tim Bird (front) and the rest of the clients at the Bridge Workshop bundled up for the weather before they left the workshop Tuesday afternoon. The coat racks were moved from the entryway to the main room after two coats were stolen from the workshop. Dave Mathieson – Amherst Daily News


AMHERST – Jackets belonging to clients at a centre that works with mentally challenged adults were stolen by someone visiting the facility to pick up toys.

“Somebody had come in to get a bag from the Christmas for Kids campaign and on the way out the woman grabbed two coats,” said Susan Thibodeau, director of the Bridge Workshop.

The centre was acting as pick-up point for the annual charity that donates to needy families in the area.

Thibodeau wonders why anybody would steal coats from the workshop?

“You’re coming in to pick up toys that were given to you,” she said. “I don’t know if they were for her or if she was picking them up for somebody else, but how low can you stoop to steal coats from a workshop for the mentally challenged.”

The coats were on a rack Dec. 16 in the entryway of the downtown centre.

“That’s where we always kept them, but I’ve moved them inside to reassure the clients that their coats are safe,” Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau said the Grinch-like move is troubling.

“The clients were very upset about this,” she explained. “They can’t understand why anybody would do that to them. They wanted to know who did it.”

Thibodeau, too, would like to know.

“’Hey look, there’s a rack full of coats, I think I’ll grab a couple of them.’ Who thinks that way,” Thibodeau said.

The coats will be replaced.

“People from the Christmas for Kids campaign insisted that they replace the jackets,” Thibodeau said.



Organizations: Christmas for Kids, Bridge Workshop

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Recent comments

  • Dee
    December 22, 2011 - 16:05

    Janet, thank you for your comment! The press gives excellent coverage to local matters but the word "thief' in this situation may be a bit premature and unfounded. So before any more mud is thrown perhaps some of the well meaning bloggers should relax and show a bit of mercy and grace ..keeping in mind it could have been someone in their family who needed a coat and removed the coat inadverently. I am sure if this is the case they would not want their relative being "labelled" a thief ....or otherwise..God bless and have a great Christmas!

  • Janet Dale
    December 22, 2011 - 10:24

    To Dee, I agree whole heartedly. This was most likely an honest mistake, as you are right about the free clothing at previous Christmas For Kids at the past location. I've seen numerous posts on Facebook about "shaming them" once they are found out, and it's very disturbing. It seems our harmeless townsfolk have some bloodlust in their hearts, and didn't take a second to think about the actual circumstances that may have led the woman to think the coats were available (as it could be they've not had to ask for help before)... or maybe she is a thief? but either way the comments are extreme. She didn't kill a cat or dog, we're talking about coats. Coats that can and it seems have already been replaced. We have 470+ families (from Amherst area) that signed up for Christmas Cheer baskets this year. Where's the outrage about that reality?

  • Jack On The Rocks
    December 21, 2011 - 15:25

    To LOLA...If they bring them it will be a Christmas Miracle...I may have jumped to a conclusion,but I got $20 that says they don't return them???Christmas brings out the worst in some people....

  • lola
    December 21, 2011 - 14:47

    In my opinion what I see here are a lot of judgmental people. The article clearly states that the coats were on a rack (as opposed to hooks) in the entry way. Perhaps the person thought that they were donations that were left to be taken. I am by no means defending the person who did this and i agree that the coats should be returned. But i also think that people are jumping to conclusions. perhaps the christmas for kids people have a list of who picked up gifts that day...maybe they can track them down that way? If it was an honest mistake the person shouldn't have an issue returning them.

  • DRH
    December 21, 2011 - 14:34

    This is Amherst we're talking about! While our world as a whole is messed up - Amherst is a whole different breed of place. Of all the places I've lived and been to, never have I seen a town so full of people with one sided opinions and general lack of classlessness. I'm sure the individual that took these coats fits into one of two categories: 1. Low class attitude(Low class has nothing to do with the amount of $$ you have) with a sense of self-entitlement or 2. A brain dead moron that thought the coats were there to be given away. Neither situation would surprise me.

  • jr
    December 21, 2011 - 12:08

    To begin with I would like to state that a person can't get much lower on the scale of 1-10 by doing something like this. These folks work hard every day and because they have various different challenges in life should not be a reason to be targeted by someone like this. If the person gets caught, then they should have thier name published just to show what others think of them and to warn other people. I also want to mention that in my books, to say that all are "Mentally Challenged" is not politically correct. Find another phrase and you are stereotyping people. I hae had dealings with some of these clients in the past when being a volunteer with the Special Olympics and there was nothing wrong with the minds of a few of these folks. All in all, it is a sad day when a person stoops this low and even more so at this time of year. If it was an accident (highly doubt it) then why would they not bring them back.

  • Crystal
    December 21, 2011 - 11:28

    Wow, that is really heartless. This is a small town and someone will see you with their coat on, so senseless!!! Hope Santa dishes you out the karma you deserve!!!

  • Disgusted
    December 21, 2011 - 11:12

    What a disgrace to know that somone in our community would steal coats from the mentally challenged especially at a time of year for giving! How totally selfish can you get???

  • Ann
    December 21, 2011 - 11:00

    What a disaponitment to read this article. I hope she is identified, charged and as part of sentence made to work CS hours at the Bridge workshop to understand how her greed and ignorance affected innocent HARD WORKING people.

  • Jack On The Rocks
    December 21, 2011 - 10:59

    To the lady who stole the coats(I use the lady term very loosely)I hope you and yours get everything you deserve for Christmas....a short much grief as you have caused the clients of the Bridge Workshop...Merry Christmas to everyone else...

  • Pair Knowelle
    December 21, 2011 - 09:57

    Bravo to the GUTLESS person that did this act! After you RIPPED-OFF the coats from the cognitively challenged, did you knock down some old people as you were stealing the kettle from a volunteer for the Salvation Army?!!

    • Dee
      December 21, 2011 - 17:15

      Innocent until proven guilty!!! In past years when the Christmas For Kids was hosted at the St Charles School coats and clothing were availbale free of charge near the entrance for individuals to take as required. It appears as if the individual who took the coats may have assumed they were for the general public as in years gone by. If this was an honest mistake .... put yourself in their shoes and be careful when casting the "first stone"!