Thieves steal from non-profit group

December 11, 2008 4:32:50 PM PST
Thieves nearly stole Christmas for local handicapped kids who use gentle horses as therapy. A non-profit organization in northwest Harris County was hit hard this week. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Maria Pinzon has a lot to be upset about. Thieves broke into her property and didn't just make out with valuable equipment. They stole the heart of her mission.

"They didn't take anything from me or a business," she said. "They took from little children."

For eight years, Pinzon has run Halter, a non-profit organization that aside from offering riding lessons, allows special needs children the chance to ride horses.

But on Tuesday, that program took a major hit when someone broke the locks to the property, stealing more than $20,000 worth of equipment, including 16 saddles. Six of them were made specifically for children, like Norma Painter's daughter.

"It means disabled children can't ride and there are regular children who ride for lessons, which help pay for the extras that the disabled children need," she said.

The theft comes just weeks after someone came in and stole a valuable horse trailer. What's worse, without equipment, Pinzon's upcoming annual photos with Santa fundraiser is in jeopardy.

Donald Mittlehauser heard of the theft. He donated a junior size saddle to keep things going.

"Obviously, it's a crime, not just a moral reason, but the letter of the law also," he said. "it's a crime."

While the saddle will help, Pinzon worries about what will happen to the kids without the rest of the equipment.

"We can't do what we do without our saddles," she said.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office is investigating. They say they'll contact local pawn shops to be on the lookout.

This is a non-profit organization, so donations are certainly welcome.

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