Flint, MI—The Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV), a youth programming and community center on Flint’s north side, was burglarized overnight.

The nonprofit’s director of education, Audrey Medlin, said staff had come in on June 8, 2023 to find laptops, televisions and Xbox game systems missing—electronics which she estimated total to around $10,000, collectively.

Most of the stolen equipment is used for SBEV’s esports and STEM programs, which are set to start summer sessions in about two weeks.

“Fortunately, we had our new robotics equipment locked up in closets,” Medlin said. “We’re relieved about that.”

A cracked window that someone used to break into the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village on Thursday, June 8, 2023. The window was quickly repaired and put back up. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

Medlin said staff had reviewed surveillance camera footage and found that an unknown man attempted to break in during the night and again around 6 a.m. on June 8.

“He tried to break in the doors but he couldn’t, and then he broke in through a window on the side where preschool is,” she said. “He appears to have known where our cameras and stuff were because he turned away from the cameras and covered his head.”

Computers rest on the table in the computer lab at the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village on Thursday, June 8, 2023, after someone broke into the building and stole nine of the center’s other computers the night before. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

The director noted that SBEV will move forward with all programming despite the stolen electronics, saying the center was determined not to miss any education, art and athletics programming for the children it serves.

“We’re not going to shut down. Not for one day,” Medlin said. “We are gonna just regroup and do what we’ve got to do, because we have an agenda and our agenda is always to serve.”

Detective Tyrone Booth of the Flint Police Department confirmed that Flint PD is investigating the incident, but he said he could not provide any additional information as the investigation is ongoing.

For now, SBEV’s staff said their hearts are hurting, both for the children who stand to be affected by the lack of equipment and for the person who stole it.

“We’re really sad and frustrated because… SBEV is all about helping the entire community. And if someone would have reached out to us to say, you know, ‘I need food,’ or ‘I need assistance or help,’ we would have helped them,” Medlin said through tears. “And that’s the part [that hurts the most]—because they stole from their own kids. They stole from their own community.”

When asked how residents could help, Medlin said people can support SBEV through the upcoming Gus Macker Basketball Tournament, the nonprofit’s largest annual fundraiser, or call 810-964-1219 for equipment donations.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....