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Power Tools Needed To Complete Home Renovation For Disabled Mother Stolen

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Long Island volunteers are heartbroken. CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports.

Video Transcript

KRISTINE JOHNSON: Long Island volunteers that are just heartbroken tonight, unable to complete a charitable effort.

MAURICE DUBOIS: For months, they've been renovating a disabled woman's Hempstead home, but someone broke in last night and stole their tools. CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff has the story.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: Work stopped short on this labor of love in Hempstead, a house to be transformed to give the disabled homeowner wheelchair access and much needed repairs.

GINA CENTAURO: But you're not just hurting us. You're hurting a mom here who has a disability and a disabled child.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: The founders of Rescuing Families a small nonprofit returned Thursday to find thousands of dollars in power tools stolen.

GINA CENTAURO: Ted's are gone.

- Everything?

- Oh, no.

GINA CENTAURO: Every battery gone.

- Everything thing, dude.

- All of our hands tools, all of our compressor tools, you name it. Anything you need to build a house, we had in this house.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: A house clearly marked as a charitable project. Claire Helfenbein's house, a disabled widow with an autistic son chosen for the surprise renovation.

CLAIRE HELFENBEIN: It's like winning a little lottery.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: She calls the theft a smack in the face.

CLAIRE HELFENBEIN: To steal someone's tools that's trying to help a family in the community, who does that? It's disgusting, and I'm very hurt by it.

- Heartbreaking. We're just trying to make a difference. They just wiped everything out of us.

- My heart is sick. I was crying this morning.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: Volunteers had been working toward a July 4 reveal.

- I think it's cruel, when we're here trying to help another family in need, and somebody else comes and ruins it all.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: The group had just labeled these bins. They say thieves cherry-picked the most expensive tools. They even emptied the refrigerator of water bottles. Police dusted for fingerprints on a window and door that were forced open and are checking surveillance video. The homeowner has one hope.

CLAIRE HELFENBEIN: I don't know if they have a conscience, but maybe something will touch their heart. And they will return the tools.

- Then the bigger picture is--

GINA CENTAURO: We have other families to help.

- We got other families.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: Down but not out, they vow to somehow get the family back home. In Hempstead, Long Island, Carolyn Gusoff, CBS 2 News.