Meals On Wheels Vandalized - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/16/08

Meals On Wheels Vandalized

Lubbock Meals on Wheels is back online after a thief stole copper piping from their walk in freezer. The theft happened around 7 p.m. Thursday but the staff at Meals on Wheels didn't know anything was wrong until Friday morning when the freezer's temperature was very high.

"I get a phone call at home and they tell me our alarm system is going off because there's trouble in the freezer," said Meals on Wheels Executive Director Lorrie Bellair.

Bellair was home when the call came in late Thursday night so she got up and went to see what the trouble was.

"The door wasn't open and I went inside and the temp was going up and the fans weren't going so I thought we probably burned out a motor or something, we'll have to get on this first thing in the morning," Bellair said.

When she got to work Friday morning and contacted a repair crew, what they found was shocking.

"They came in here and they said we can't find anything wrong, we need to go check the freon. We go outside into the ally and they said the copper pipes are missing off your building. And I said what," Bellair said.

She went on to say, "when they took those pipes off, well it drained all the freon."

And it's the draining of the freon that cost Meals on Wheels more than $1,500 to replace. But despite the high cost of repair, Lorrie and her staff are thankful no food was lost.

"We could have lost the rest of our months food to feed over 550 people per day which is what we're doing right now," Bellair said.

"It's reached epidemic levels in a lot of areas and Lubbock is of course not immune to that," said Cpt. Greg Stevens with the Lubbock Police Department.

Stevens says copper is easy to steal and it is hard to trace the crime because there's rarely any surveillance video to identify the thief.

"It's a very valuable metal. Scrap yards and salvage places pay a good price for it," Stevens said.

Copper brings between $3.85 and $4 per pound to be exact.

"Totally unprepared for and unsuspecting, but we just didn't realize what that copper piping outside the building was going to do to our operation," added Bellair.

Meals on Wheels want to reiterate that if you receive meals from them, your food service will not be disrupted.

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