Kayaks, paddleboards stolen from autism support organization

Deputies are searching for the thieves who stole several kayaks and paddleboards from a Clearwater non-profit.

The organization's CEO, Bonnie Monroe is still trying to understand how someone could have done this.

"I was sad to think someone would take equipment from autistic children," Monroe said.

Six paddleboards, five kayaks, and multiple paddles were stolen from Freedom Sailing Camp.

"I was angry, then I wanted to cry, and then I want to find out how did it [happen] because I want my equipment back," Monroe said.

The equipment was stored in her trailer, parked at a storage facility on U.S. 19 in Clearwater. Sometime Monday, Monroe says thieves broke the lock and stole the boards and boats, worth more than $5,000.

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"They are hurting some kids that do not deserve this," Monroe said.

Freedom Sailing Camp offers opportunities on the water to kids and adults with autism. It started more than eight years ago with her son who has autism.

"The experience they get and the self-esteem they get from learning how to do things just means the world to me because it's my love and it's my dream that we just keep on going and giving back," Monroe said.

After posting about the theft on Facebook, multiple community members stepped up, donating at least two kayaks and two paddleboards.

"People have been calling me, wanting to help out, which is great because I love the fact that when you think you're really down people are there for you," Monroe said.

So far, no arrests have been made. Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to contact the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.