'It was horrifying': Autism centre in Fergus vandalized twice in three months

The Autism Behavioural Services centre in Fergus has been broken into and vandalized twice in the last three months, leaving $70,000 in damage and devastating those who use the space.

"It makes me mad, they came into a place that wasn't theirs," said Aydyn Landry, who attends the Autism Behavioural Services centre.

In late March, a derogatory term was spray-painted across one of the buildings.

"We were heartbroken, it was horrifying," said centre owner Freya Hunter. "I felt like there was a lot of ignorance behind the word because our children, that's not ever how we would describe them."

In April, another building used for physical activities was broken into and vandalized.

"They covered all our therapy material with paint, they painted swastikas on the floor, they broke some big cathedral windows," Hunter explained.

The destruction has caused more than $70,000 worth of damage and left the centre without many therapeutic materials.

"These are things we use daily, these are things that are needed on a regular basis," Hunter said.

Just a few weeks later, a break-in was caught on camera. Though nothing was taken, Hunter and her staff say they're nervous it could happen again.

"It feels like an invasion of what is our safe space but also a very private space," said Haley Payne, the centre's clinical director.

Wellington County OPP says the three incidents are all under investigation. The first two acts of vandalism are considered criminal offences, while the third an act of trespassing.

About 45 children with autism attend the centre. Some parents say they are in disbelief that someone would vandalize the space.

"I'm just really shocked someone would attack the centre so many times, considering how much they do for the community," one parent said.

The centre plans to install an upgraded security system.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover the damage expenses.