Thieves Ruin Charity Food Worth Up To $474,000

Police: Two Stole Metal, Causing Freezers To Fail

Two thieves caused freezers and a cooler to fail when they stole copper tubing from Gleaners Food Bank on Friday night, ruining hundreds of thousands of dollars in food meant for the needy, police said.

Gleaners workers didn't discover the theft and broken-down freezers and cooler until Monday morning, meaning food sat without proper cooling through the weekend.

Police said they have surveillance videotape of the theft at 1102 E. 16th St., but they described the thieves only as two males. Police said they believe the thieves took the tubing so they could sell it at a scrap yard.

The thieves cut through an outdoor wire fence to access the tubing, police said.

"Until our neighbors are committed to ending this and scrap yards are committed to not buying it and until thieves understand that the neediest of needy are the ones that are hurt when this happens, it will not end," Gleaners CEO Pam Altmeyer told 6News' Renee Jameson.

Up to $474,000 worth of food was compromised, Altmeyer said. Gleaners told several charities Monday that it cannot provide them with food they were expecting.

The ruined food included more than 2,500 pounds of USDA cheese.

According to police, this is the third time Gleaners had been targeted for its copper tubing.

"There's people out there who know. It's time. They need to come forward and help us," said Indianapolis Metro police Lt. Jeff Duhamell.

Gleaners said it could use food donations or help fixing the freezers and cooler. Anyone interested in donating food or their time can call Gleaners at 317-925-0191.

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