Youth club food trailer stolen, damaged

The Evanston Youth Club’s food trailer sits outside the organization’s facility on 6th Street in Evanston. A trail of spilled cooking oil is shown in the parking lot, and can be tracked through parts of town. Officials are seeking information after it was stolen on Sunday, July 4. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — Officials and members of the Evanston Youth Club for Boys and Girls were shocked Monday morning, when they discovered their food trailer was missing and a trail of spilled cooking grease led onto 6th Street and over to Summit Street.

Club teacher Emileigh Hillstead told the Herald, “My mother drove by the club early Monday morning and saw the food trailer was gone and [was] concerned. She texted me to ask if I knew where it was. I then texted club director Holly Slade-West, who was on holiday in Arizona, and asked if she knew where the trailer was and she immediately called Lt. Ken Pearson to report it stolen; ... [Slade-West] is on her way home.”

Meantime, the theft was posted on Facebook and social media, and the club’s board chair Kevin Kallas said his wife Michelle saw it and alerted him. He was on his way to wash his car and had a hunch to check the industrial parks on Bear River Drive to see if the food trailer was behind any of those buildings. The hunch paid off, and he found the trailer parked behind and to the side of the Motel 6 around 8:30 or 9 a.m. Monday morning.

“It was just really disappointing to me,” Kallas said, “that as good a community as we live in, that those things still take place. It reminded me of the Roundhouse, when those two kids, young guys broke out all those windows.”

The trailer is used by the youth club members, and Kallas said they’ve put a lot of work into it.

“These kids have worked hard for two years to get this food truck up and running. They had to develop a business plan, search for and buy equipment, raise funding, and [do] all of the hard work to build a business. The food has been great, and they will bounce back and get in the saddle again,” Kallas said.

The grease trail from the trailer led up Summit Street to Harrison and down to Sage Street, where the vehicle towing it turned right and wound in and out of the residential area to 17th Street, through a private parking area, back down to Harrison Drive and eventually across the bridge to Bear River Drive and ending at the Motel 6 parking lot.

“It is sad that someone would do this, but we are relieved to have it back here at the club,” Hillstead said. “The kids are great; they have learned to get back up when bad things happen. They will clean the trailer up and hopefully we can be at NAPA this Friday as planned for their big tool sale. Kevin [Kallas] said that NAPA will donate all the degreaser we need to clean it up.”

The time of the theft is unknown. Any damage to the interior of the trailer is also unknown at this time; officials are waiting for Slade-West’s return so she and police can do a thorough inspection.  The trailer does have some new dings and dents on the outside, along with a broken taillight and, presumably, a greasy floor.

Contacted by phone, Holly Slade-West said, “It is an ongoing investigation, and if anyone has any leads please contact the Evanston Police Department.”

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