DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A Dayton food pantry is suffering a setback after an apparent theft. Surveillance video captured a suspect cutting wires and stealing batteries from a With God’s Grace mobile food pantry truck.
Staff discovered the severed wires and missing batteries when they were loading up the 24-foot truck for a mobile pantry event in Vandalia Monday.
“When we came out and found it, we were devastated because we just got the truck up and running again,” said Nicole Adkins, the executive director at With God’s Grace.
The organization has been trying to fundraise $20,000 to replace its largest vehicle for several weeks. Adkins explained the old box truck regularly breaks down and staff have been making minimal repairs to make it last.
Surveillance video from around 3:10 a.m. Monday showed a person, wearing a headlamp and hooded sweatshirt to hide his or her face, check the With God’s Grace door and then pull on batteries in the truck’s battery box. When the efforts were unsuccessful, the suspect left and returned with a saw to cut the wires attached to the batteries.
Adkins estimated the small amount of copper wiring and batteries would only be worth $40, although it would cost more than twice that amount to repair the damage.
“We would have been the first ones, if they needed money, we would’ve given it to them before they stole from us,” she said.
With God’s Grace officials say that around 4:30 p.m. they were notified that the suspects had tried selling the batteries. Dayton Police were called, and took the thieves into custody.
Monday’s mobile pantry was slightly delayed because of the theft. Volunteers used the non-profit’s smaller truck, which holds about 40 percent less than the 24-foot vehicle. The shorter truck also requires volunteers to load and un-load by hand because it doesn’t have a liftgate. Despite the setback, With God’s Grace supplied food for 89 families in Vandalia Monday evening.
“It’s puts a lot of stress on our volunteers, and as an organization, to still be able to continue feeding the community,” Adkins said.
Although Adkins doesn’t plan to press charges, she said she’s disappointed someone would target a non-profit.
“They’re not just hurting one person, they’re hurting the whole community in general,” she said.
After posting video on social media, With God’s Grace is already seeing support. Tuesday, a local Interstate Battery store donated batteries and replacement parts.
An online fundraiser has also collected more than $8,000 of the $20,000 necessary to purchase a replacement truck. You can contribute to the fundraiser, by visiting the With God’s Grace website here. You can also drop off donations at its warehouse on 622 Springfield Street in Dayton.