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Pastor Hoping For Return Of Stolen Food Pantry Truck

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Pastor Virgil Jones (CBS)

Pastor Virgil Jones (CBS)

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Updated 06/18/12 – 4:02 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – As police and the community continue to search for a delivery truck stolen from a West Pullman food pantry, the pastor who runs the pantry has been speaking out about the theft of the truck he’d bought less than two weeks earlier.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports, Rev. Virgil Jones said when he parked the truck outside the Mother Jones Food Pantry in the 700 block of West 120th Street, he never expected someone would steal it.

“We’ve been here for over four years, everybody in the neighborhood knows what we’re doing,” he said. “So, it had to be someone that really didn’t care or didn’t know what we did for the community.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports

After delivering some food with his personal car late Friday night, Jones returned to the pantry to find the truck gone. The pantry had bought the truck just 10 days before.

As CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, Jones said it appeared to him that someone must have towed the truck off the lot next to the pantry, as there was no broken glass where the truck had been parked, and tracks left behind on the grass looked like the truck had been dragged.

Jones said the pantry has needed the truck for the last four years, because of how much food they haul – not just when they deliver food to the needy, but when they pick it up from the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

“We pick up between 6,000 and 9,000 pounds of food – sometimes twice a month,” he said. “We pick up food three times a month from the Greater Food Depository. … I need a big truck.”

The pantry had been saving up to buy the truck, and made the final payment two weeks ago. Jones hadn’t even received the title yet.

“I was waiting until today, which is Monday, to go and get the insurance and get a license plate for it,” Jones said.

The truck would have been used to deliver food elderly, disabled and homebound neighbors who are unable to come to the food pantry when it’s open on Saturdays, according to Jones.

“We have some clients that’s homebound, we have some elderly clients that does not have a way to get here, and we have some that are sick and they’re not able to come out,” he explained.

Jones said there’s a great need for food donations in the community. He noted 150 families – or about 500 people – came to the pantry this past Saturday for food.

Priscilla Jackson’s is one of the families who has food delivered by the pantry each week.

She said those deliveries are “very important, because I have no way of getting around.”

Jones said it was his own mother who inspired him to open the Mother Jones Food Pantry.

“My mother always opened her kitchen to everybody in the neighborhood,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jones has been using his own vehicle to make deliveries, still hoping the truck will be returned.

He described the stolen truck as a plain, white, 17-foot box truck – a former Budget rental truck. He said the top of the truck is cracked from a tree falling on it previously.

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