Garner Cleveland Record

Non-profit, which helps families in need, robbed of nearly $5,000

Police are still searching for someone who stole nearly $5,000 in cash from a volunteer-run organization that gives that money and food to people in need.

“It’s still a very active investigation,” Lt. Joe Binns, a spokesman for the Garner Police Department said. “It is something we’re still following up on. We’ve got some leads we’re following up on.”

On Nov. 7, in the late night or early morning hours, someone broke into Garner Area Ministries, breaking the window of their thrift store.

Carol Oriel, the president of the board of directors, said it looked as if someone threw something to break the window.

“It was large enough that they could climb in,” she said.

Oriel said the thief then went from the thrift store to the next building and searched through the cash register but found only coins. She said the person then broke into the offices and found $4,700 in cash.

We always felt so safe there, but I guess people are desperate these days.

Carol Oriel

“In hindsight we should have deposited that,” she said, “but it was Friday and we didn’t deposit it.”

“We’ve since come up with a lot of procedures to prevent this from happening again.”

The $4,700 in cash was enough to supply two months worth of food for the current number of families the group serves, Oriel said. From July to September, Garner Area Ministries gave food from its food pantry to 355 families, which amounted to about 1,000 people.

“It would have paid for about 30 electric bills,” she said. “It was a significant amount. We feed so many people.”

They had to replace the door and the window-frame as well.

Oriel said the non-profit has a little savings, so those families do not have to suffer the consequences of the theft. However, it will pay for security measures to add to its building.

Garner Area Ministries has set up a Go Fund Me page in hopes of raising $6,000.

Garner Area Ministries has been providing food, clothing and financial assistance to people in the Garner area for more than 30 years.

“I know it taught us a lesson and we’re going to be more careful with everything and put some things in place,” Oriel said. “We always felt so safe there, but I guess people are desperate these days.”

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @GarnerCleveland