String of thefts frustrate Petersburg non-profit revitalizing neighborhood

String of thefts frustrate Petersburg non-profit trying to update neighborhood
Posted at 5:46 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 23:36:26-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- A non-profit organization recently purchased more than a dozen houses in Petersburg to try to improve the neighborhood. However, a string of thefts has left organizers frustrated.

"It frustrates good people," Pastor Gary McReynolds, the executive director of Regenesis, said. "So here we had the plumbing, the copper plumbing, someone crawled under and stole all the copper plumbing."

Unfortunately, the theft didn't stop there.

"We discovered someone had stolen the line set, which is the copper which runs between the indoor and the outdoor unit," McReynolds said.

The string of thefts is hurting the non-profit at a time that they are trying to transform an entire neighborhood.

"Regenesis is a non-profit that works with people in life crisis situations," McReynolds said.

Those who receive help from the non-profit are also given jobs.

"To actually have employment, plus at the same time, come into a neighborhood and totally revitalize it," McReynolds said.

Regenesis bought 13 run-down houses in the Blandford neighborhood. One house has already been renovated and sold.

"Single mom and she's just so grateful, you know, to be a homeowner and then our second one is under contract, so it's happening," McReynolds said.

The recent thefts have put a damper on the positive outlook that McReynolds has developed for the regeneration project.

"This is the second one I've put in case the first one was stolen, so we concreted this one into the ground and cabled it off," McReynolds said.

The material kept the unit in place but not the copper tubing.

"They got about $15 in scrap metal," McReynolds said. "I've got a $1,500 repair bill out of this."

Especially for a non-profit, the thefts are eating away at funding that could be used for more projects.

"We don't receive any grant funding, everything we do, it's social entrepreneurship, so we raise all of our own funds and don't get a lot of cash donations," McReynolds said.

McReynolds said that he would like to see neighbors looking out for each other and is calling on people to report anything suspicious they may have seen.

While theft is a problem, Regenesis is now not the only rehab group in the neighborhood.

"In this neighborhood, now investors are coming in," McReynolds said.

The additional rehab groups have led to more homes being renovated, resulting in a positive effect on the community.

"Better quality of living for everybody in the community, of course, the tax base goes up," McReynolds said.

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