Jacksonville, FL - A Westside church which helps former convicts move away from crime has itself become a victim of crime.
A police report obtained by WOKV shows Wayman Ministries has a van, trailer and commercial lawn equipment stolen from its campus off Cassat Avenue and Plymouth Street. The thieve or thieves cut a hole in the chain link fence that was around the parking area- and also surrounds a school yard that just hours prior had been full of children. While the exact time of the robbery is unknown, Pastor Mark Griffin found the van missing around 6:30PM Tuesday.
The monetary value of what was stolen has not yet been determined, but Pastor Mark Griffin tells us the value goes beyond the equipment.
“They’ve stolen equipment that people use to put food on the tables of their families,” he says.
The lawn care equipment was used by “Transformation Lawn Service”, a program the church founded in 2012 to employ ex-offenders. Griffin says the idea started even earlier, with “Transformation Car Wash” in 2010, when crime was on the rise and those with records had nowhere to turn.
“We decided that one of the issues was lack of employment opportunity,” he says.
Working with the city, Griffin and the church started the car wash service in an effort to cut back on crime and give former convicts a new opportunity. It quickly grew.
“We never had enough jobs to fill the demand,” Griffin says.
That spurred the lawn care program, that’s now all but shut down with this loss in equipment. Griffin says the ministry is coming together to figure out how to rebuild and does not intend to lay anyone off. He’s not asking for donations from you, but instead for you to be on watch.
“We need the eyes and the ears of the community,” he says.
Among the stolen items are a white van with burgundy lettering about the church, a white trailer, and a yellow commercial lawn mower. If you see any of these items, you’re asked to contact police.