Ozone Park civic’s van gets snatched 1

The Ozone Park Residents Block Association’s Ford Econoline van, which it needs for its weekly food distributions, was stolen off the street last Thursday.

An Ozone Park civic group’s van was stolen, and with it thousands of dollars worth of meals for residents in need.

The Ozone Park Residents Block Association’s blue 2002 Ford Econoline van was picked up off the street at Digby Place and Rockaway Boulevard last Thursday night, according to the group’s president, Sam Esposito.

In order to keep running its weekly food distribution, the group has started looking for a new ride, and is seeking community donations to fund it. The recent theft has put its entire operation in jeopardy.

“We can’t operate without the van. The van is a must,” Esposito said.

The civic leader said that the vehicle needed some major mechanical work to keep on functioning, but it contained several thousand dollars worth of food that the group was storing for the food giveaway the following weekend.

Esposito suggested that someone must have stolen the vehicle for scrap metal because driving it was an idiosyncratic process.

“The drive shaft was broken. So you had to know how to drive it and the spark plug blew two weeks ago,” he said.

All its problems in consideration, the vehicle had allowed the civic to provide a massive amount of groceries for residents in need throughout the most dire points of the pandemic. It had been used to haul several million dollars worth of food over the last year and half, according to Esposito’s estimates.

Though at first the civic group leader thought that it may have just been towed, Esposito said that he spoke to a police detective yesterday morning who confirmed it had been stolen.

The group has started a GoFundMe to purchase a replacement van that Esposito said it will need quickly if it’s going to continue running its weekly food donation.

As of Wednesday, it had raised over $2,600 out of a $7,500 goal. Esposito said that all additional donations would go directly back into the group’s food distribution efforts. Esposito said as of Tuesday that he had already begun the process of replacing the stolen vehicle.