Vandals steal kitchen equipment from Salvation Army's mobile kitchen in San Rafael

- A Salvation Army mobile kitchen that served thousands of meals during the October wildfires in Sonoma County was vandalized in San Rafael on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

The vandals broke through the 21-foot truck's roof vent to get inside the kitchen and took kitchen equipment, food, pots, pans and utensils, Salvation Army San Rafael Corps Lt. Larry Carmichael said.

The mobile kitchen was in a gated parking lot of the Salvation Army's San Rafael Corps Community Center at 351 Mission Ave. The theft was discovered around 7 a.m. Wednesday.

A recycling company's workers neglected to lock the gate, according to Carmichael.

"The owner is a good friend of the Salvation Army and he apologized," Carmichael said.

The 20-year-old mobile kitchen served 100,000 meals over six days at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Veterans Memorial building and Finley Center in Santa Rosa after the fires in Sonoma County in October, Carmichael said. Thirty pop-up shelters and churches in other locations also received food and supplies.

"Whoever did this, they completely ransacked the whole canteen. These are the items we need for an emergency, especially this upcoming fire season," Carmichael said.

The Salvation Army is still working with a body shop for an estimate to repair the vehicle. Damage and loss to the contents are estimated at $3,000, and an additional $2,000 in dry food was lost, Carmichael said. 

San Rafael police are investigating the vandalism and theft. Donations of food and new kitchen equipment are welcome. People can call the Salvation Army San Rafael Community Center at (415) 459-4520 or visit sanrafael.salvationarmy.org.

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