Portsmouth police officer surprises children’s hospice center after theft of lawn equipment


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Workers at EDMARC Hospice for Children in Portsmouth have a tough job, working with kids facing deadly illnesses. 

On Monday, someone decided to make it even harder. 

“They took some of the rocks out of the memorial garden, and they threw them at one of the windows on the other side,” said EDMARC Executive Director Debbie Sitzer-Brame.

The burglars also broke into their storage shed, and stole their only two lawnmowers. 

“When they came to file the report, they like the rest of us were kind of shaking their head, like how did somebody do this?” Stitzer-Brame said.

Volunteers also used the lawnmowers to care for families’ yards while their children are in hospice care.

“Just think about it you have a mom whos taking care of a child and they have maybe two or three other siblings dad is active duty military and they’ve been out to sea who is going to mow the lawn?” she explained.

Lieutenant Justin Velasco knew he had to help. 

“When I saw it, it’s a children’s hospice, unfortunately crime happens, but when the victims a children’s hospice it kind of reached out to me,” Velasco explained.

Velasco quickly got to work calling everyone he could to track down some used lawnmowers for sale. 

He ultimately landed on a deal at Lowe’s, and delivered the surprise Wednesday afternoon. 

“They’re rockstars, they’re our knights in shining armor,” Stizer-Brame said smiling.

Velasco says he hopes people see his story and are inspired to help out in their community. 

“Just encourage people to pay it forward when they can, little opportunities to help out pop up every day,” Velasco said.

Proving for every bad deed, there’s a good one right around the corner. 

Officials say the investigation into the burglary is still underway, and they don’t have any suspects at this time. 

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