SERVE freezer damaged during attempted break in

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: Callaway Action Network Director Julie Roark points out damage done when someone tried to force open the door of SERVE, Inc.’s walk-in freezer over the weekend. Although the break-in was unsuccessful, the door will need to be replaced, at a cost of $3,741.

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: Callaway Action Network Director Julie Roark points out damage done when someone tried to force open the door of SERVE, Inc.’s walk-in freezer over the weekend. Although the break-in was unsuccessful, the door will need to be replaced, at a cost of $3,741.

Their whole purpose is to help others.

Sometime over the weekend, an individual or individuals tried to help themselves to the food SERVE, Inc. has gathered to help feed struggling families in Callaway County.

“Apparently we had somebody over the weekend who tried to break into our walk-in freezer,” SERVE Executive Director Lisa Brown said Tuesday. “The thing that’s disturbing to me is it’s a freezer full of food for people that don’t have enough to eat.”

The attempt was unsuccessful, but it did result in enough damage to the freezer door that it needs to be replaced — a $3,741.53 blow to Callaway County’s flagship outreach organization.

“The budget is pretty tight, and that’s one of those expenses that you don’t think to build in,” Brown said. “We’re hoping it isn’t all out of pocket. We’re hoping through insurance some of that might be recovered.”

Julie Roark, director of SERVE’s Callaway Action Network, said the damage first was discovered by a food pantry volunteer Monday morning.

“They thought that it looked peculiar, that some of the snow had been disrupted,” Roark said. “They definitely tried to use something to try to pry it open.”

Brown said at first glance the damage to the door does not appear to be significant, “but it’s enough that it won’t seal, so it has to be replaced.”

She said SERVE does have a security camera, but noted the poor lighting in the outdoor area where the freezer is located has rendered the footage unusable — a situation the organization is taking steps to remedy.

“We’re working on taking some extra security measures,” Brown said. “We’re installing a motion-sensitive light by the freezer and a sign notifying people they are on camera (to put on the freezer door).”

A property damage report was filed with the Fulton Police Department on Monday and Major Roger Rice said the department is looking into the incident.

“We’re going to investigate it, but we have no suspects,” Rice said, adding anyone with information should call the police department or Callaway Crime Stoppers. “Somebody out there knows who did it.”

Brown said she also would encourage anyone with information to contact authorities.

“I don’t know if it does any good to ask, but if anybody has any information, please call,” Brown said, noting she has no idea who might be responsible.

Asked about her initial response upon realizing what had happened, Roark said she was angry at first before coming to another sobering conclusion regarding the incident.

“Someone pointed out to me perhaps they were hungry,” Roark said. “Perhaps they had a valid reason to break in.

“There are steps to go through to receive our services. We encourage people to use us, but not to abuse us.”

Anyone with information regarding the attempted freezer break-in at SERVE is asked to contact the Fulton Police Department at (573) 592-3100, or Callaway Crime Stoppers at (573) 592-2474.

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