PAULS VALLEY, Okla. (KFOR) – An air conditioning duct was ripped off the side of the Samaritans of Pauls Valley food pantry building where an individual used that new opening to shimmy inside, steal food and cause destruction.
Last Thursday, the President of the food pantry and Vice Mayor of Pauls Valley, Bonnie Meisel said she got a call on her way there saying there was a suspected break in.
“We had a lot of damage and food thrown around the pantry,” said Meisel.
Meisel estimated about $400 of food was either compromised or eaten.
“They had a snack of cookies and milk about half way through,” she said.
Along with missing food, city relics were also in disarray.
Old museum artifacts were broken and glass cases were shattered.
The Samaritans food pantry was established in 1978 to serve all of Garvin County. Since then, Meisel said she has never seen the place get robbed or broken into.
“It was a pretty sad and disillusioning thing to happen first thing in the morning. That day was a pretty rough day for us,” said Meisel.
$400 may seem little to some, but Meisel said it’s a big hit to the food pantry.
“It is a lot to us. The average food cost right now for a family of two is $46. So that compromised, you know, several families food. We’ve spent about $34,000 in food in the last four months. Food costs are rising,” stated Meisel.
Meisel told KFOR the Pauls Valley Police Department was called and officers came by to “swab” where they suspect the intruder touched.
“While they were there, they tried their best to gather any kind of evidence they could as far as fingerprints, DNA,” said Pauls Valley Police Chief Mitch McGill.
A 12-inch long knife was also retrieved by Pauls Valley PD, according to Chief McGill.
Chief McGill said if the intruder is caught, they’ll face misdemeanor charges.
The evidence gathered has since been turned over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said Chief McGill.
“We send that all to the state, and it can take quite a bit of time,” Chief McGill added.
Chief McGill said a suspect has not been found yet.
“We’re asking the public if they have any information that could lead to an arrest. Please let us know,” Chief McGill told KFOR. “Or just if they know somebody or have heard something about it happening or somebody may have shown up at their house with a bunch of food to let us know that information.”
For now, though, Meisel said they have secured the doors by bolting unused areas shut.
“It’s going to be very difficult for someone to get in,” said Meisel.
Meisel said although a hard day for her and the other 20 volunteers, they all rallied together, cleaned the pantry, and served 32 families that day.