A local food bank is reeling from a recent theft that's making it difficult to serve dozens of food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.
Every year, 2,600 hungry people in six counties are fed with food from Hoosier Hills Food Bank in Bloomington.
"It's disheartening to know how great the need is out there. Our output has doubled in five years of this recession. We've gone from distributing 1.6 million pounds of food a year to 3.2 million," Executive Director Julio Alonso told RTV6's Ebone Monet.
This week, picks-ups and deliveries of donated food have slowed down, and three of four box trucks are out of commission.
Over the holiday weekend, someone stole part of the exhaust systems off two of the trucks.
"That makes it very hard for us to get out there and do the retail pick-ups and deliveries that we have to do every day, and what's made it worse is we don't know when the parts are going to be available to make the repairs on these trucks," said Alonso.
Monroe County Sheriff's deputies think the thieves were after the catalytic converters because they contain precious metals, but experts at Sternburg International said that's not what was taken.
Still, auto experts said the stolen parts sell for about $8,000 retail, although that rate likely won't translate on the streets.
"In my opinion, I don't know how valuable it would be at a scrapyard," said Sternburg International Service Manager Scott Kabrick."The insides are ceramic, so the value depends on if this scrapyard knows what they're buying."
Alonso said even after insurance the repairs will cost $2,000 out of pocket.
"This is not the type of thing that should happen to anybody, but it's a little hard to understand why somebody would target an organization like ours," said Alonso.
Hoosier Hills Food Bank leaders said they're considering renting a refrigerated truck at a rate of $800 a week, money that would have gone to buy more food.
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