STOCKTON (CBS13) – Veterans in Stockton are upset after a break-in at the American Legion Karl Ross Post. The thieves came in through the roof and stole $4,500 worth of property.
“We were attacked!” said Tino Adame, Veteran’s Affairs State Chairman for American Legion, who was outraged when he heard about what happened. “It was an insult to us. It hurt us.”
The countertops under the A/C vent opening in the roof were left in shambles and the PA system was taken.
“One person came in and shimmied down maybe with a rope with the help of another person,” Adame described, based on the footprints on the wall.
The thieves also broke into the refrigerator, took soda and then hit the kitchen.
“We had our bigger pots and pans and our meat slicers [that] we used for our events and they’re gone” Adame said.
But it wasn’t the first time the thieves hit the 54-year-old post. Last week, the thieves took several pieces of history when they stole flags, hats and trinkets all donated from military families over the years.
“Some jerk wants to come in here and take it and I feel like they don’t realize who they’re taking from,” she said.
Amy Vandermeulen is the legion’s bartender said working at the post for the last year has been a blessing.
“When I came here, I felt welcome, I felt warm and I felt comfortable,” Vanderleulen said. “I realized these people are real. These people are here because they believe in something.”
She told CBS13 she couldn’t understand why anyone would steal from a group of veterans just trying to give back to their community.
Adame now plans to invest in security cameras and hopes this doesn’t happen again. But between running boys and girls state programs and helping people on a daily basis, the veterans can’t let the break-ins slow them down and will continue to provide fellowship for the people in their community.
“We’re veterans, we come back from battle, rest a little bit and continue,” Adame said.
Many of the items at the American Legion come from donations and fundraising meals. Now the veterans are planning a spaghetti dinner to help replace the stolen property.