‘On no account are we Fort Knox:’ Break-in at Moncton meals financial institution sparks name for assist

The people who run Moncton’s food bank say it is shocking that someone would steal from the Peter McKee Community Food Centre, but that’s exactly what happened over the weekend.

Ben MacMichael, the operations manager, discovered the break-in when he stopped in Sunday morning to plant some vegetables in the garden outside.

“You could see the front greeting desk was all tore apart,” he said. “There was papers everywhere and the drawers were all ripped open and then I came in further, and I could see they had tried to hack my door.

“They didn’t get into my office but they got five of our laptop computers out front … they were looking for money but we don’t usually have money on hand.”

Food Depot Alimentaire president Dale Hicks says it is frustrating that a break-in has forced staff to spend their time filing police reports and dealing with insurance companies when the food bank should be focused on helping people in need. (CBC)Dale Hicks, president of Moncton-based Food Depot Alimentaire, the distribution centre for food banks in the province, said RCMP are investigating, and staff from the Peter McKee centre will meet with the insurance company today.

“There’s a drug problem in the city, and so a lot of these break-ins are associated with that — you know they’re grabbing things like computers to try and take them somewhere and pawn them off for 50 bucks,” Hicks said.

Understands desperation

Hicks said a security system for the building was part of future plans, but he was hoping to wait until renovations to the centre had been completed.

It is discouraging and the first thing that I thought of was the volunteers who put all of the hours into this place.– Ben MacMichael

MacMichael is frustrated that money that could have been used to buy food for clients will now go toward repairing the damage, replacing computers and improving the security of the building.

Someone tried to break into one of the offices at the Peter McKee Community Food Centre using a pair of scissors. (Submitted by Ben MacMichael)“We work with many different people and I know there’s some that are pretty desperate,” he said.

“So when I saw that, I thought, ‘OK, these are one of our desperate people and they saw it as a resource to come in and grab some stuff and they have a lot going on in their life, and they probably just saw it as an easy way to get some laptop computers and sell them for cheap and buy whatever they need to buy,” he said.

“It is discouraging and the first thing that I thought of was the volunteers who put all of the hours into this place. They really care about this building and what it stands for and … to be violated in that way — some of our volunteers I know are going to be upset when they come in today.”

‘By no means are we Fort Knox’

Hicks and MacMichael said no client information was stored on the computers that were stolen, but losing five of them will slow down services until they can be replaced.

Operations manager Ben MacMichael discovered Sunday morning that five computers were stolen from the food bank. (Sumbitted by Ben MacMichael)Now, MacMichael said, the centre is asking for help to set up a security system.

“The priority has been to put [money raised] towards our food efforts and now we’re going to have to rethink things and we’re looking to try to get a sponsor to help us with cameras and with some of that security stuff,” he said.

“By no means are we Fort Knox. We put our money into things that we thought mattered most, and that was catering to our families and buying food.”

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