Details released in food trailer theft

A man exits a newer model silver Dodge Ram 2500 near the Evanston Youth Club on 6th Street, where police say he stole the club’s food trailer at 5 p.m. Sunday. (COURTESY PHOTO/Evanston Police Department)

EVANSTON — The Evanston Police Department has released details and surveillance photos concerning a local theft. Although the food trailer that the Evanston Youth Club had been using wasn’t reported missing until early the next day, police say on Sunday, July 4, at 5:04 p.m., a silver Dodge Ram 2500 with a bumper guard and a bed full of belongings pulled into the Evanston Youth Club facility at the club’s 6th Street facility.

“The truck backed up to the trailer and a male subject wearing a COVID mask exited the vehicle. After approximately four attempts, the male was able to hook the trailer to the truck. The driver … then turned right, hit the garbage can, and then turned right onto 6th Street,” states an incident report provided by EPD.

Officers could not identify the man but said he was wearing a black hat, black shirt and jeans. The report indicates the suspect was driving a newer model Ram pickup with “some type of white license plate.”

Evanston Youth Club board president Kevin Kallas found the trailer between 8:30 and 9 a.m. Monday at the Motel 6 parking lot, not long after it was reported missing. Two jack stands on the trailer were broken, and cooking oil coated much of the inside of the trailer. The spilt oil soaked part of the ground around the trailer and actually made a trail from the club’s 6th Street facility, down Summit, onto Harrison and Front Street and all the way to the Motel 6 on Bear River Drive, where it was found. Kallas expressed disappointment by the theft, and club director Holly Slade-West cut a vacation short to return to the mess.

“The food truck business has been a project for over two years by our business club, where youth have developed a business plan, learned all the ins and outs of being entrepreneurs, raised money, helped write grants and so much more,” Slade said.

“We were completely disheartened and devastated for our youth. The trailer was not in any condition to be moved with the stabilizers still down, equipment out on counters, and oil in the fryers,” Slade-West said. “… Luckily for us, the oil was leaking excessively and may be the reason the trailer was abandoned before being taken out of town.”

She went on to say that she believes this wasn’t any sort of joke but, rather, a serious crime. She also said it was a nice teaching moment for the club’s kids.

“We believe it was taken by someone from out of town with every intention of stealing the food truck, and was not anybody playing a prank on the club,” Slade-West said. “Although the oil has left a mess, some damage done to stabilizers and doors, cosmetic damage, and some equipment damaged, we feel blessed and grateful to have the food truck back. It has been a great learning experience as we have been able to teach our youth how to overcome barriers and trials that are put into our lives and how we rise above and come out stronger.”

Slade-West also thanked the community.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the kind words and all those who have reached out to support our youth and our programs that help them reach their full potential,” she said. “The business club is one of our premier programs and the food truck is evidence of youth learning great things and we weren’t ready to be done accomplishing great things with our youth.”

Officials and members rallied this week to make sure the food trailer, Tacos and Treats as it’s called, is clean and functional for an event today, Friday, July 9. Club members will be at NAPA, which is holding a large sale, selling their highly-praised food to community members.

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