COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Run The Race Center in the Hilltop has been providing kids a safe space to learn, play and grow since 2005.

The center is currently expanding, building a brand-new gymnasium for community kids to use. But vandalism has been a problem since construction began a few months ago with at least four attempts so far.

“Anywhere from scaffolding being stolen, to them breaking into the job site trailer, wiping the entire job site trailer out, computers, tools and all that stuff was stolen,” said Bryan Hamilton, whose contracting company is in charge of the gym project. “Then yesterday they actually tried to set the job site trailer on fire.”

On Wednesday morning, construction crews saw the job site trailer smoking when they arrived. They were able to put out the fire before it caused major damage, but this shows how common vandalism has become for the construction site. Rachel Muha, the director of the Run The Race Center, says these vandals are messing with a safe haven for many local children.

“People in the neighborhood know what we do, and they know that everything we offer the kids is free,” says Muha. “But then in the middle of the night they have to come and break into the trailer, break into the old gym storage room and steal things?”

Hamilton agrees that the only victims here are the children who will have to wait longer to enjoy their brand-new gym. “We’ll take care of all of our stuff with insurance, but everything that is stolen is actually taken away from the kids and the progression of this project,” says Hamilton.

The vandalism has slowed down construction, but Hamilton and Muha agree it won’t stop them. The kids have even started praying for the vandals. “We have a prayer to our patron saint St. John Bosco where we ask his intervention to help people who are stealing to stop doing it,” says Muha.

She says the Run The Race Center successfully keeps inner-city kids off the streets and out of trouble. Muha can’t wait for them to see their new gym, and they expect the project to be completed sometime this summer.