Gospel Mission Food Pantry victim of theft

MARIETTA – Thieves overnight Wednesday entered a Marietta food pantry and stole all the food, officials said.

The theft was discovered Thursday morning at the Gospel Mission Food Pantry at 309 Lancaster St. by Candy Waite, who operates the pantry with her husband, Jeff.

“It’s gone. Everything. They cleaned us out,” she said.

Candy Waite arrived at the pantry around 9 a.m. Thursday and slowly started noticing things out of place. Water bottles were missing from the refrigerator in the larger warehouse that contains the pantry, a drill lying in the wrong location and things askew in the office adjacent to the pantry.

She called her husband, a captain of the Marietta Police Department, when she noticed the drill had been used in an attempt to enter a supply closet. It was not until police arrived that they discovered all of the food had been stolen, she said.

Among other things, a freezer full of meat that the pantry just received two days earlier was emptied, said Candy.

Also taken was milk, cereal, shampoo, dish washing liquid, diapers, a large green wagon the pantry used to haul trash outside and a donation jar containing an undetermined amount of money.

All told, the thief or thieves made off with between $4,000 to $6,000 worth of items, said Jeff Waite.

Robert Heeter, 62, who lives across the street from the pantry, said he was on his porch until about 1 a.m. Thursday and did not see anything suspicious.

“That’s pretty bad that people would steal from the food pantry,” he said.

The amount of food taken would have required a truck to haul it all, Candy Waite said.

Capt. Waite said police were not able to determine a point of forced entry into the pantry itself.

The one person to hold a key to the pantry beside the Waites, Bob Harlow, reported that he had not been in the pantry since 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The pantry is a small room built inside of a larger warehouse. No signs of forced entry were found, said Capt. Waite.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called to process the scene Thursday evening because the Marietta Police Department is short staffed, Waite said.

The theft comes on the heals of the pantry already having difficulty stocking its shelves. Its application for 501(c)3 nonprofit status has been in limbo and as a result many organizations and individuals are unable or less willing to donate to the pantry.

Now the pantry is facing its next food distribution day with nothing, Candy Waite said.

The pantry is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Wednesday.

“We really need people to help us restock this food pantry,” Candy Waite said. “We have five Wednesdays in July and it’s going to be hard for us to get through that.”

The pantry served 440 people last week, said Capt. Waite.

Police have no suspects, he said. Anyone with information about the break-in should contact the Marietta Police Department at 376-2007.