AKRON, Ohio — An organization dedicated to doing good is now scrambling after someone did a very bad thing.
A cargo van— used by Good Neighbors Inc. to collect food for hundreds of families in need— was stolen over the weekend outside of the pantry in the Goodyear Heights neighborhood in Akron.
"I can't fathom why they would do it. It's just hard to believe that anybody would take from people that feed their neighborhood, probably feed their grandparents," said George Camilletti, the volunteer manager for the non-profit.
On Saturday, Camilletti discovered the 2008 Ford E-250, which was under a carport in the fenced-in property, was gone.
At first, he assumed one of the volunteers was using the van and hadn't returned it yet.
"Then I checked closer. We have a chain and a padlock that had been cut with bolt cutters and, of course, none of my people had it so we made a police report. It's gone," Camilletti said.
Camilletti believes the crook hot-wired the vehicle. He never imagined it would be swiped.
"It was a 2008 cargo van. It wasn't exactly a sports car to steal," he said.
The van was used four times a week to pick up food from the Akron Canton Regional Foodbank which was then brought back to the pantry to assist about 750 families.
The pantry is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 3 p.m.
As a result of the theft, volunteers are temporarily using a U-Haul truck and their personal vehicles to shuttle some of the food orders.
Beth Burch, who volunteers every Tuesday at the pantry, was very bothered when she learned about the crime.
"I was really upset about that because I thought here we are in a community where we're helping people and then somebody goes and steals the van," Burch said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the van— which has the words "Good Neighbors" and the number 330-733-1453 on it— had not been located by Akron police.
Lt. Michael Miller said officers are looking for any potential surveillance video in the neighborhood and asking residents to be on the lookout for the van.
"I have a feeling maybe they spray-painted over the decal of the food pantry, I would guess," Camilletti said.
With a limited budget, Good Neighbors isn't sure how it will afford to replace the van and they are uncertain about what insurance will cover.
"I'm sure being a 2008, the insurance company is not going to give us a whole lot of money for it and new ones are very expensive," Camilletti said. "Since we're non-profit, we don't have guaranteed income. We have to keep a little bit in reserve."
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