Nineteen tires were stolen from trucks belonging to Second Harvest Food Bank overnight Sunday. The charity serves needy people and families throughout Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
According to Tracylyn Sharrit of Second Harvest Food Bank, employees discovered the thefts as they prepared to make food pickups.
"What they've done basically is take food off the table of children and seniors and families who are struggling to get by right now," Sharitt said.
Only two of the eight trucks the hunger organization uses daily were left intact.
Sharitt said each tire costs $500 to replace.
"Nineteen tires off of a semi-truck is the equivalent to stealing about approximately $10,000 from the food bank in some of the worst times the Inland Empire has seen in hunger relief," Sharitt said.
While food distribution continues to go out the front door, food pickups have come to a standstill until the tires can be replaced.
With only two working trucks, the food bank has been forced to prioritize its pickups. For now, larger donations have been put on hold for smaller more perishable foodstuff. The theft also means Second Harvest Food Bank will not be able to make deliveries to other food banks in its network.
"We're having to re-schedule those pickups which is obviously going to set us back weeks because for every time we don't go to pickup, tomorrow's pickups are now pushed back," Sharitt said.
The delay will likely impact the 400 agencies in Riverside and San Bernardino counties that rely on the food bank and in turn the 400,000 people in the Inland Empire who rely on those agencies.
"I am just very angry and I think that everybody in the Inland Empire should be as equally angry because this is your food bank," Sharitt said. "We're feeding your neighbors."
The organization received some good news from Walmart Monday. The retail giant called the food bank and offered to donate $10,000 to replace the tires.