Burglars broke into the Anne Arundel County Food Bank on Friday and stole computer equipment used to manage operations, leaving officials of a chief provider of food and supplies to the county's needy scrambling to pull records together at their busiest time of the year.
The 24-year-old food bank, on the grounds of the former Crownsville Hospital Center, was closed all day, with police there past noon and cleanup of the ransacked offices taking most of the afternoon. Groups that were to pick up orders Friday were told to come Monday instead.
"I was crushed. I couldn't believe that somebody stole from an organization that helps everybody, that helps people in need," said J.J. Fegan, president of the food bank's board.
Executive Director Bruce Michalec — who arrived at work after a breakfast where the Distinguished Sales Achievement Club, a Realtors group, handed him a $4,000 check and individual members gave another $1,600 — was flabbergasted. "Why?" he said.
It appeared that no food was taken from the 30,000-square-foot building, but given the volume of nonperishables and pails of Halloween candy, nobody could be sure.
The computer equipment was valued at $10,000 and was the backbone of the $300,000-a-year operation, tracking orders from pantries, soup kitchens, schools, social service agencies and religious institutions. Last year, the group gave food to more than 100 agencies that supplied 35,000 families, and its soup kitchen program distributed more than 500,000 meals.
At this time of year, the food bank staff also compiles computer reports detailing how it spent grant money and how much food it gave away.
"I have a report due to the state. They'll give us food based on what we gave out," Susan Thomas, executive administrative assistant, said, adding that she will have to go through receipts by hand to re-create orders and the reports. "It's the worst time of year for it to happen."
Michalec was not sure whether the equipment was insured. Those records were computerized and he had not yet searched for paper documents. Donor records were not kept electronically.
Police said they were called at 6:45 a.m. by a worker. The burglary remains under investigation.
Burglars broke a rear window, and climbed over bags of kitty litter to get to the offices. Windows in the office doors were shattered, and offices left in disarray.
A reward will be offered for information leading to a conviction, Michalec said.