Thief steals $17K from NM after school program

New Era martial arts
After months of fundraising, someone stole $17,000 that was meant for children at an after school program.

SANTA FE (KRQE) – A New Mexico non-profit was hoping to start this school year by helping a lot of kids. They raised thousands this summer for a new mixed martial arts after school program, but now they’re starting over all thanks to a thief who stole all of their money in seconds.

“The kids coming here and sometimes we can have up to 30 kids on the mat at one time,” said Tim Valdez.

He’s a guy who’s already put a lot of his life into helping kids.

“Hopefully change some lives of some kids who need it,” said Valdez.

His school called New Era, has kept a lot of kids off the streets as they learn mixed martial arts. Now, they’re launching an after school program for about 35 kids, many whom are at risk.

But what should be a good thing now has Valdez torn apart.

“It’s mind blowing and I’m trying to put my head around it,” said Valdez.

It’s a sore subject, but Tim is out thousands of dollars. After months of fundraising, $17,000 worth of cash that Valdez raised in Santa Fe and even boxing in Canada is now gone.

“It’s just sad man I can’t believe somebody would steal money from an after school care program,” said Valdez.

Valdez says the money was stolen right out of the cars in a parking lot after he says he made an honest mistake.

“When I went to go get the money to put it in my safe, I grabbed the receipt bag, left the money inside my glove box,” said Valdez

All of that money was supposed to go to the new program.

“We were going to put all of the computers here,” said Valdez. “It was going to pay for gas to transport kids to our facility.”

Valdez admits he screwed up and he’s not expecting much sympathy. However, he says he’s worried about the program’s future now, but he’s trying to stay hopeful.

“Instead of asking why God, I’ve just been praising him that I have this place and that and there are good people out there and I’m doing it for all the right reasons and it’s going towards a good cause,” said Valdez.

It’s a good cause that he hopes people will still support.

New Era says it is still planning on launching the after school program but say they’ll be limited in the teaching tools and snacks they can offer kids. The non-profit says Santa Fe police haven’t gotten any leads but they’ve warned local banks to watch out because some of the cash is in Canadian dollars. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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