Thieves steal $4,000 worth of meat, damage freezer at South Park food bank

(UPDATED Saturday evening: Scroll down for newest info)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

It’s distribution day at the Providence Regina House food bank in South Park. Hundreds of families – about 2,000 people in all – will be fed with the food picked up today by food-bank clients waiting in a long line that, by opening time, was already wrapping around the corner that holds the South Park Neighborhood Center, where the food bank is a tenant.

But those families – many with young children, since today is also “Baby Day” at the food bank – won’t be getting meat. Somebody broke into the food bank’s walk-in freezer overnight and stole an estimated $4,000 of donated meat.

Paige Collins from Providence Regina House tells us that, adding insult to injury, the thief or thieves busted the locking/latching mechanism in a way that renders the freezer unusable until fixed. So even if someone donated replacement meat, they have no place to put it.

They’ve been hit by theft before, and there have been signs of attempts to get into the freezer, but never before has anyone actually succeeded, she says. The meat is donated over the course of each week by the QFC on Capitol Hill – it’s meat that is perfectly good but can’t be sold past its pull date.

The thieves were picky, Collins adds, taking “the good stuff” – which ranges all the way up to roasts – and leaving behind the lowest-grade items, like ground turkey. They also created a mess to get to it – a mess cleaned up by the time we visited, but one that took precious time from food bank staff/volunteers getting ready for their busy distribution hours.

We found out about the theft because Collins had sent a note to the South Park e-mail list, wondering if any neighbors had seen suspicious activity behind the SPNC building. West Seattleites should be on the lookout too. When we visited, another employee was walking surrounding blocks looking for evidence; the stolen meat would have been in banana boxes or in black bins like these:

Those are apparently unique to this food bank. The theft was reported to police early this morning, so if you have any information, call 911.

It’s too soon for Collins to know what they’ll do next; “I can replace the lock, but what if they just come do it again?” she wondered aloud. And they do have enough food to feed everyone today – it’ll just be less than they would have given out otherwise, and South Park is one of the most poverty-challenged areas in the city.

P.S. Collins’ contact information – and donation information for the Providence Regina House food bank, which runs a clothing bank too – is here.

EVENING UPDATE: Collins tells us they believe they know who did it, after getting word a suspect was out trying to hustle some of the stolen food on the street. They also have learned that some of it was seen at a local laundromat earlier today, and are hoping video surveillance might help identify a suspect.

27 Replies to "Thieves steal $4,000 worth of meat, damage freezer at South Park food bank"

  • vanessa September 7, 2013 (10:35 am)

    Unbelievable…..thieves stealing from the mouth of babes and the needy. I will be raiding my own cupboards, a little or a lot…and hope our neighborhood can pitch in and help as well.

  • Ryan September 7, 2013 (10:53 am)

    I think we’ll be seeing more of this when the gap between rich, wealthy, elitists, etc. and working class, poor is at a all time high throught the U.S. WHO SUFFERS?!? NEVER the people who caused it. always the underpaid & poor…

  • eric September 7, 2013 (11:07 am)

    I just made a donation, and I hope others who are as appalled will do the same.

  • WMF September 7, 2013 (11:23 am)

    So, for the next week or so, when someone approaches you on the street and tries to sell you meat don’t blow them off as usual (I hope that’s what ppl do). Call the damn police. Ugh.

  • pupsarebest September 7, 2013 (11:23 am)

    Heartbreaking and outrageous.
    One has to wonder how much of this meat will now go to waste due to the thieves inability to store it properly.
    Ryan, I agree with your perspective–in the big picture, there is a reason (not an excuse) for the increase in all the thefts/burglaries/etc….the chasm between the haves and have-nots has never been wider or more extreme, and it’s getting worse, not better.
    The crime rate will reflect that.
    Catch and punish these theives, no doubt, but it would great if the hundreds of thieves on Wall St. were punished, too.

  • Jeff September 7, 2013 (11:28 am)

    I hardly think rich wealthy elitists are the ones breaking in and stealing meat from the food bank Ryan…

  • HA September 7, 2013 (11:47 am)

    Here’s to hoping the community will rally around them. I donated too:-)

  • JanS September 7, 2013 (12:14 pm)

    there are many of us living on the edge, being the “have nots” if you will….and we would never, ever fathom doing something like this. If you’re hungry, and want to feed yourself and your kids, if you’re desperate, you go steal a roast at the local grocery store…or rice. or go to the food bank like others and stand in line. $4000 worth of meat? these were criminals, not desperate people, in my opinion…stolen purely out of selfishness, and can they make a buck on it..

  • sophista-tiki September 7, 2013 (12:21 pm)

    Everything I can think of to say about this is super offensive. Just doesn’t get any lower than this.

  • cj September 7, 2013 (12:22 pm)

    I noticed a couple of things. Its the night before feeding day[?] so the thieves knew of the schedule and that it was likely enough meat so that a place to store it would be required. That suggest a house or facility that would accommodate a good size freezer. I know a lot of people have them but maybe not in most apartments? Maybe they need some extra security volunteers when its close to feeding time? Hope a repeat can be avoided this is sad.

  • flimflam September 7, 2013 (12:24 pm)

    what a terrible and bizarre crime. what the heck would one do with all that meat? sell it on the blackmarket? eat it? I don’t get it…

  • kayo September 7, 2013 (12:31 pm)

    It is heartbreaking that so many families are struggling just to feed their kids. Then something like this happens to add insult to injury. I also made a donation.

  • Kayleighsong September 7, 2013 (1:54 pm)

    Do people really sell secondhand meat? If not, how could they possibly eat $4,000 worth of meat in this lifetime?
    Very dismaying that they stole it from the people (and kids) who need it the most. :(

  • jm_civik September 7, 2013 (2:18 pm)

    Do they have or need help finding a security/camera system? Is there anything the community can do in this regards?

    Since they seem to get hit so often, perhaps this would be a good investment as a deterrent.

  • flimflam September 7, 2013 (3:20 pm)

    I work in the restaurant industry and can’t imagine what business would buy “street meat”. I’ve certainly never seen anything even lose to that occur in my experience.

    that said, I also can’t imagine who could personally use all that meat on their own, even with a family of 4.

  • Jim P September 7, 2013 (3:34 pm)

    “Do people really sell secondhand meat? If not, how could they possibly eat $4,000 worth of meat in this lifetime?”

    When they roll up to you on the street or knock on your door, trying to sell it, they don’t say it’s “second hand”: Thieves are also liars by trade, it “was extra we had left when X refused a delivery” or “My boss wants us to get rid of this because someone screwed up an order and we’ll get fired if we don’t sell it” or “HI, We’re selling food because Jesus wants us to raise money for the poor and we’re hoping you’re gullible enough not to ask why we don’t just *give* this food to the poor” or the surprisingly honest “Dude, we’ve got some good meat here, it’s hot and we need to unload it”.

    (A surprising number of “trunk of the car” vendors *want* you to think it’s stolen goods when it really is just swap-meet junk because you
    are unlikely to complain when you find you were ripped off.)

  • Jim P September 7, 2013 (3:40 pm)

    “I work in the restaurant industry and can’t imagine what business would buy “street meat”.”

    You work in quality places I suspect. There’s plenty of just-making-ends-meet businesses that won’t ask too many questions.

    When I worked at “X” food place about forty years ago, it was a rare month when one of the distributors making real deliveries didn’t just “happen to have some extra (food item/supplies/what have you) that “fell off the truck” or some similar song and dance and at least four or five times a year some dude with an unmarked van or reefer truck would pull in and try to sell the boss similar “bargains”.

    The boss never took them up on it (we were a franchise and the franchise holder would have lost his contract if caught doing this), but no one was surprised at how regularly it occurred.

    • WSB September 7, 2013 (4:01 pm)

      What came to my mind almost immediately when we heard about this, before we even headed down to South Park to find out more, was the occasional report we get of someone going door to door saying that they happened to be in the neighborhood delivering meat and “had some left over” and wanted to offer “a great deal.” I believe some of those past reports have yielded information that the sellers were or could be legit … however, it would also seem to be a plausible story that could work if you pull off this kind of theft and repackage the higher-end items somehow (new labeling?). Have not received any door-to-door meat-selling reports lately, but in the wake of this, be on the lookout … TR

  • Between Alaska and Admiral September 7, 2013 (4:16 pm)

    We had some random people driving by our house 2 or so weeks ago trying to sell us “extra” meat. They were very suspicious. At the same time, another car pulled up across the street (unusual). It felt like the “vendor” was trying to distract us so the other person could get in our house or smthg. It was bizarre. My husband was so suspicious that he called the number on the truck. No one answered even after repeated calls. We called the police. I plan to ask my husband if he still has the number. If he does, we will call the police again.

  • Mike September 7, 2013 (6:10 pm)

    Jim P nailed it. It still amazes me how gullible people are for scams and how little people know about restaurants they go to. Even some of the more reputable ones serve junk like this stolen from the food bank.
    Sad that the food bank was hit. Would not be any better if Safeway or Met were stolen from, but at least they would have a way to recover quickly from the loss.
    For those making comments about this being somehow related to the white collar crime in politics and Wall St… you really don’t know much about people who would take time and effort to take $4k in meat. Wall St. folks eat $4k steak dinners at political fundraisers. They’re pretty far removed from stealing a freezer of meat.

  • Gate wood mom September 7, 2013 (7:03 pm)

    Those black boxes are not unique. I have several myself from helping with food donation runs. Please correct your report.

  • flimflam September 7, 2013 (8:38 pm)

    mike, I must respectfully say that no normal everyday restaurant would even discuss buying oddball meat from an unknown vendor. I can’t imagine you have an actual story about a reputable restaurant doing anything like you’ve suggested.

    for a vendor to even hope to sell a product to a restaurant, there are all sorts of questions and hoops to jump through. these businesses are highly regulated and people don’t just stroll into a place with some meat and “make a deal”.

    now, I guess I could see using the meat for one of those weird door to door scams. seems like a lot of trouble.

  • gia September 7, 2013 (11:57 pm)

    Perhaps there is some type of addiction involved here. If so, most addicts know where to unload their stolen merchandise, be it meat, laundry soap from the grocery store, liquor from safeway, or some other desired item. Most of the dealers are not bothered by the how/why/where the stolen merchandise came from. What might be 4000 dollars of meat may only be 2000 at street value. No matter what, stealing from a food bank, to me, is just an all time low. Again, karma has no expiration date.

  • Scott Greer September 8, 2013 (12:04 am)

    STEALING meat- that’s going to be GIVEN AWAY- to HUNGRY PEOPLE- and then, TRYING TO SELL IT?!
    Not cool..!

    This is in no way similar to a theft from a for-profit business!? 
    It takes a considerable amount of time and energy of all involved, for QFC (or whoever) to make this food available to Paige @ Regina House, who will store, move, and orchestrate distribution to many needy families. The people making this happen are not laughing all the way to the bank.

    And do you know what the street value of $4000 worth of expired stolen meat is? 
    Because- this is not an “unknown vendor”, shopping meat around from his refrigerated meat-mobile. 
    This is most likely some toothless crack-head who has been up all night stealing, and moving, a huge pile of thawing past-date meat into the back of his 1978 Ford Futura. 
    WHO is going to buy some drippy old meat from some drippy-eyed strangers dirty trunk? (And please tell me which restaurant is going to cash in on this deal..!) 

    So, what was a tremendous and charitable group effort, to fill a bunch of hungry little tummies with some delicious food…
    will now probably ROT in a dumpster.

    Kids- don’t steal meat. 

  • Mike September 10, 2013 (12:08 am)

    flimflam, here ya go. Sams BBQ has 3.5 stars on Yelp and Willie’s BBQ has 4 stars on Yelp.

    Mmmmm… stolen meat. Don’t be fooled, not all places are buying from the same people you think they buy from.

  • T September 10, 2013 (6:40 am)

    This is even more messed up! They give out the food willingly. Why the f would you steal it?!

  • G September 10, 2013 (9:54 pm)

    Don’t dilute the heinousness of the crime by bringing up Wall St. Anyone who would steal from a food bank is human garbage.

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