Stockton Food Bank Hit by Copper Thieves

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The San Joaquin Emergency Food Bank is delivering food to its 200 to 300 clients despite the theft of copper coils that destroyed three air-conditioning units Monday morning. The suspects cut their way through two fences.

The units cooled the food bank's administrative offices and its classroom where nutrition classes are held.

"Yesterday it got to 88 degrees by 3 p.m.," said executive director Mario Supnet.

The replacement costs are estimated at up to $20,000.

Additional fencing was put up just a few weeks ago when suspected thieves broke into an enclosure housing the units that cool the warehouse refrigeration and freezer rooms. They turned off the units but apparently couldn't dismantle them.

"That would have been half our inventory ... no fresh produce, no dairy, no meats," said Supnet.

While the food distribution operation continues, such thefts take resources away from the food bank.

"It's been a distraction to what we do ... it's frustrating because we're here to help people," said Supnet.

There are people in the community that appreciate their efforts.

The J.H. Simpson Company in Stockton agreed to replace the air conditioning units at no cost as well as build a secure enclosure for it. That will also help the food bank escape an expensive insurance claim as well.

"We're driven by that kind of support and donations," said Supnet.

The organization is looking at further upgrades in security at the facility.