Aurora refugee center: We're being targeted by thieves and criminals in the neighborhood

Village Exchange Center burglarized twice in week
Posted at 8:42 PM, Oct 01, 2020

AURORA, Colo. -- An Aurora nonprofit that serves more than 2,300 meals a week is trying to figure out who keeps breaking in and why.

Two of the break-ins happened just this week.

“It's been pretty shocking to us," said Mike Wraight, vice president of operations for PIN solutions security.

The break-ins at the Village Exchange Center (VEC) in Aurora happened late Monday and Tuesday nights of this week.

“Multiple windows were smashed, drawers were ransacked," said VEC founder Amanda Blaurock.

What's particularly brazen about the thefts is that it appears to be the same thieves caught on-camera both nights.

"Pretty aggressive,” Wraight said. “A lot of lack of regard for the cameras. They really don't seem to care that they're on-camera."

The VEC is a nonprofit community center serving refugees and immigrants.

"We're up to 2,300 meals and groceries that we serve to individuals per week," Blaurock said.

It’s a business under attack by the very community it works so hard to serve.

“To feel insecure like this when you're coming in to serve the community is just not fair," Blaurock said.

The Aurora Police Department told Denver7 that they're adding extra patrols. But, Blaurock says, investigators have already indicated justice for nonviolent crimes isn't so swift these days.

"They can charge them, but they can't actually imprison or put them in jail,” Blaurock said. “That’s what they told me. It's almost like a slap on the wrist."

“It's a whole other world now," Wraight said. “COVID has pushed a lot of - more aggression behind these people. They've become more desperate."

Wraight’s company is now barring windows, reinforcing doors and adding more locks at the VEC.

"We're currently working on updating their access control,” Wraight said. “Security measures and adding more security cameras."

Blaurock says it's a neighborhood riddled with problems.

"I think it's terrorizing,” she said. “I think it's a lack of caring.”

And yet, despite the break-ins, her nonprofit is undeterred.

"We're not going anywhere,” she said. “And, if anything, we believe being here will stop what's going on."

The Aurora PD says if you have any information regarding this burglary, you should call CrimeStoppers at 720-913-7867. You could be eligible for a reward up to $2,000.

“Our mission is to celebrate religious and cultural diversity,” Blaurock said. “How can we do that if we’re being terrorized? I really hope the police can stop the prostitution happening in our alleyway, the drugs, the sleeping, the sex – there’s a lot of defecating. It’s just been very difficult to keep people coming to assist us when they’re scared to walk down our alley. When you’re lacking community cohesion, you’re really lacking an ability to be accountable to one another.”