ROGERS PARK — The Howard Area Community Center was forced to shut down its food pantry twice this month after thieves stripped copper wiring from an electrical box behind the center, cutting off power and prompting costly repairs, the center's director said.
"It’s just unfortunate," Executive Director Bruce Rasey said, adding that 200 families were affected by the power outages that lasted longer than 24 hours. "That really bothers me because people need food."
The first theft was on April 17. Thieves hit the same electrical box at 7648 N. Paulina St. a second time either Sunday or early Monday, Rasey said.
Both times ComEd was called out to shut off the live connection, then turn it back on when repairs were made hours later.
ComEd spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney confirmed the company was called out to the center twice this month.
The reported thefts cost the nonprofit social service organization $7,000 to repair, Rasey said.
The center is hoping donations will help cover the cost.
Rasey said police had no idea who might have committed the thefts, which were not captured on nearby security cameras.
After the first theft, the center ordered another camera to cover the electrical box, but it had not arrived.
Rasey said he had beefed up the box's locks, but those tampering with it are putting themselves at huge risk.
"It’s amazing how dangerous it is," he said. "They could have certainly killed themselves."
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