1,500 diapers stolen from Portsmouth nonprofit that helps young moms

Shining Light Homes burglary.PNG
Posted at 4:35 PM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 18:30:40-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Patti Johnson said she is sick to her stomach after thieves ransacked her nonprofit Shining Light Homes, stealing hundreds of diapers and other things that are supposed to be for young mothers.

The window of the building is now boarded up, and remnants of glass lay in the grass outside. The building is located near Frederick Blvd. and High St. in Portsmouth.

Johnson said the thieves used a flower pot used to smash the window.

Johnson showed us the damage inside the building.

She said her nonprofit has helped dozens of young mothers since 2012.

“My heart hurt. I’m still sick to my stomach right now. I could easily start crying,” said Johnson.

She says thieves tore the place apart, went through the cabinets and stole about 1,500 donated diapers, 10 laptops, formula, cleaning supplies, the office phone, donations and clothes.

“Why would someone want to hurt our organization? We give things away free - nobody has to pay for anything,” said Johnson.

She started the nonprofit because she knows what it’s like to be a single teenage mother struggling to make ends meet.

She gave birth when she was 17 years old.

“It was extremely difficult. I didn’t have a place to live. I was living with my mom, and I was in the way,” said Johnson.

Now, she prevents young moms from being homeless, provides them with basic necessities and lends an open heart and support.

She got her GED, worked two jobs, went to college, worked at the Virginian-Pilot and then the New York Times.

Now, she is working to clean up her office and hopes she can put all the pieces back together.

Related: Thief steals catalytic converters from Chesapeake mobile food pantry

Portsmouth Police said they did respond to 3300 High St. on October 11 around 11:48 a.m. for a commercial burglary. They urge anyone with information about this crime to contact them at 757-393-8536 or to contact the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP (1-888-562-5887).

Johnson created a GoFundMe. If you'd like to donate, click here.