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Thieves destroy food for needy

Break-in turns $5,000 of perishables into garbage

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Thieves destroy food for needy

Mike Mallory and Paul Rodrigues of Second Harvest Food Bank examine perishable foodstuffs Monday that had to be discarded following the weekend break-in to one of their refrigerator trucks just ins...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED April 30, 2013 2:06 a.m.

Thieves attempting to break into a Second Harvest Food Bank refrigerator truck trailer sometime over the weekend accomplished only one thing – the loss of $5,000 worth of perishable food stacked inside the trailer that arrived on Friday.

The loss of meat and produce crimps the food bank’s ability to meet the nutritional needs of struggling families in the region they serve that includes San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties as well as the Gold Country. The food bank acts as supplier for food closets throughout the region including more than two dozen in Manteca, Ripon, Lathrop, and French Camp.

Second Harvest Director of Operations Paul Rodrigues discovered the loss Monday morning when he arrived in the yard to find a 10 by 4 foot back door off its hinges. He explained that it had been parked by the front gate alongside another trailer with a 24-foot bobtail truck blocking its back doors.

Rodrigues said the pin hinges on the door had been removed, allowing the door to drop to the ground.  Mike Mallory, Second Harvest manager, added that the front of the semi-trailer had been hand cranked lower to increase the distance between the bobtail and the trailer to allow the vandals to climb into the truck that had been parked less than one foot away.

They had gotten into the truck but the opening was still too small to remove the food stuffs.  With the back door left open, the refrigerator continued to run for naught, he said, causing meats and fresh produce to spoil, Mallory added.  Thefts could be avoided if the food bank had more refrigerator units inside their building, he said.

The tractor from the trailer had been used to block the entry gate to prevent any possible access to the Second Harvest yard. 

It was a year and a half ago that Second Harvest had diesel fuel stolen and in the last year four industrial batteries valued at $200 each were removed from a company tractor. 

Crews worked much of Monday discarding the boxes of fruits and meats that couldn’t be offered the hungry served by the food bank throughout several counties.

Second Harvest is currently in a Walmart sponsored “Fighting Hunger Campaign” where residents are being asked to vote for their operation on line to help them secure a $45,000 grant to expand the Food 4 Thought program that provides food to children in need.

Email and in the search bar type Manteca, CA and vote.  Second Harvest is currently judged 39 out of 40 in the contest.  If by Tuesday night the food bank goes above 40 they will get nothing.  Jessica Vaughn, development coordinator, is urging everyone to help they gain the needed additional funding for the food bank.

Another two trailers had contents stolen the previous weekend – one from the Every 15 Minutes campaign and the other belonging to the Manteca CERT team.  They were both parked in the former Qualex parking lot on Industrial Park Drive used by the police department for storage and training sessions.

The Every 15 Minutes trailer lost $5,000 worth of merchandise used to put on their program at area high schools.  The CERT trailer had an electric generator stolen by thieves.

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