AUSTIN (KXAN) — A home away from home for people who are deaf in Travis County is now out thousands of dollars after someone broke into their building in south Austin last week.
Austin police said they responded to the Austin Deaf Club on Cullen Lane on Thursday, Aug. 23 around 5 p.m. The thieves got away with TVs, iPads and liquor. The club’s vice president said whoever did this also went searching for a computer that stores their security camera footage and made a point to rip it and take the evidence with them.
“I was pained to the heart,” club vice president Rosemary McGaugh said through an interpreter. “I couldn’t believe… Growing up here, in the deaf club, memories with my parents, coming to the club all throughout my life, I’ve never seen anything like this.”
McGaugh said the club wasn’t open last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday afternoon, a member of the club came to show the facility to someone who wanted to rent it for a special event.
That’s when they noticed something was wrong.
“We saw the TV was damaged. Somebody smashed in the screen,” McGaugh said. After walking through the property, they noticed the missing items.
“We’re just very humble deaf people. We’re quiet people,” McGaugh said. “We just want to gather. It’s been a very very hard struggle to keep this club going, keep it surviving.”
Since the break-in, dozens of volunteers have come together to help clean up. Some have already donated some TVs as well.
But many members still can’t believe someone would do something like this. “This is the worst instance of theft in our history,” McGaugh said. “It’s the only place where deaf people can come to and let their hair down, be themselves, to enjoy themselves.”
The club said they recently bought a new insurance policy. The new company will not cover the damage because they didn’t have an alarm system.
“We got a 92-page policy, of course, 92 pages, that’s not the kind of thing that you necessarily have the time to read,” McGaugh said. “We never dreamed that this kind of thing would happen to us.”
The club has multiple security cameras, but because the new policy specifically requires an alarm system, in addition to the cameras, the club is now on its own to cover the loss and damage.
“It’s a huge lesson learned,” McGaugh said. “I’m so happy to share this story with everybody in Austin that may be a mom and pop business. You should check in with your insurance company and see what their requirements are.”
Austin police told us they haven’t made any arrests yet. They’re still investigating.
The club says if you’d like to help, you can mail donations to PO Box 3884, Austin, TX 78764 or donate online here.