Albany police are investigating the theft of a Meals on Wheels delivery van that was supposed to deliver around 1,000 meals to the elderly Tuesday.
The vehicle was stolen early Tuesday morning from the parking lot of Senior Services of Albany Inc.
The agency called it “a huge blow,” leaving it one vehicle short just before the Thanksgiving holiday.
The 1997 dark green Plymouth Voyager was taken between the hours of midnight and 7:30 a.m. from the rear lot at 20 Rensselaer St., said Detective James Miller.
Senior Services Executive Director Jane Schramm said each vehicle is locked overnight and the keys are kept in a lock box.
“All the keys were there, including the ones for the missing vehicle, and we didn’t see any signs of forced entry or anything,” Schramm said. “So all we can assume is this was a very clever thief who flipped the lock. It’s brightly lit parking, too.”
The nonprofit organization serves seniors and their families in the Capital Region. Its home delivery meal program, Meals on Wheels, delivers an estimated 1,000 meals five days a week between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to elderly people who want to remain in their homes and independent.
The agency makes use of eight cars and three vans for its delivery program. Now that it’s down a van, Schramm said its Thanksgiving meal deliveries will be especially burdensome.
“This particular holiday season, the weather is kind of iffy,” she said. “So when that happens, we make sure each of our clients have two meals, a Thanksgiving dinner and another emergency meal. So with limited vehicles, we’re more challenged with how we’re going to get everything to everyone.”
Although the center has security cameras around the building, Miller said they don’t provide a view into the Rensselaer Street lot.
It won’t be easy for the agency to replace the van, Schramm said. It has no reserve funds and any money it receives goes straight to Senior Services. She said the organization might need to raise funds now.
“We hope that whoever took the vehicle realizes what they did and how it’s impacting so many people in such a bad way,” she said. “Because this provides services to so many people that can’t provide for themselves, we’ll just continue to do what we do and no matter what we’re going to make it work. Hopefully some good will come of this.”
Miller said that because the van is not labeled as a Meals on Wheels van, it doesn’t appear to be a deliberate “Grinch” crime.
“Whoever took it might not have known what it was they were taking,” he said.
The missing van has the number 14 on the front bumper and possibly a yellow laminated Meals on Wheels placard on the front dash. The license plate number is DHE 5188.
The organization is asking that anyone interested in donating a vehicle to the program contact the center at 465-3322. Schramm said they will accept anything that’s in good condition. “It doesn’t have to be brand new by any stretch of imagination,” she said.
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