A property donated to Fontenelle Forest has become a magnet for trouble. The Neale Woods Nature Center in north Omaha sat empty until recent years because it's secluded and had many break-ins, the most recent incident coming Tuesday morning.
About $2,000 worth of security measures were recently put into place, but that didn't stop four people from kicking in the door.
Officials who run the facility have asked community members to keep an eye out. "What they're doing is not something that they can do in secret any longer," Executive Director Merica Whitehall told 6 News.
Tuesday's intruders didn't take anything. They broke the door, unplugged the cameras and set off a fire extinguisher. Mostly, just looking around, but facility supervisor Dan Borgaila says he's frustrated by all the repairs he's had to make. "It was very disheartening, very said. You know, kind of a roller coaster of emotions between mad and upset."
Barber is the resident artist at Neale Woods and caught the group leaving the property. He said that the irony is that for a portion of the day anyone is welcome to stop by. "I have an open studio. So they are more than welcome to come in and visit."
Officials said that the vandals aren't only detracting from Neale Woods, but they're also stealing from the community. The non-profit can't afford to continue replacing doors and windows.
While the woods' caretakers hope the people are held responsible, they encourage those who are curious to simply knock on the door and visit instead of breaking in.
At one point, break-ins and vandalism were so bad that a whole structure had to be torn down. A smaller home formerly stood on the property, but Fontenelle Forest decided to remove it entirely due to the vandals.
There will be a full-time ranger posted near the other building and officials are hopeful that will deter people from continuing to break in.