HOLIDAY — In her robe and slippers, Delores Kietzer surveyed the damage.
It was 11 o'clock Wednesday night and the North Buena Vista Civic Association's clubhouse had been broken into. Kietzer, 74, is the president.
A neighbor saw three men slip out the back door and yelled for them to stop. The men ran. The witness called the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, whose investigators were now dusting the cupboards and bingo closet for fingerprints.
The thieves broke the closet door and made a mess of the place. They stole a DVD player and three packages of hot dogs, which were bought for the club's Friday night social. The thieves left the buns.
"Isn't that something," Kietzer said.
A deputy asked her:
"Do you by any chance have turkeys here?"
"Well, yes we do," Kietzer said. "We have four."
She had bought them that evening at Sweetbay, which was having a sale — 49 cents a pound. Each turkey was about 16 pounds. Every year the clubhouse feeds 40 to 80 people for Thanksgiving. The club serves turkey, potatoes and gravy, and everyone else brings a side dish.
Kietzer took the deputy to the freezer. They opened the door.
There were only three inside.
"As soon as they found out we had a missing turkey, they knew they had him," Kietzer said.
It turns out that another deputy spotted a man a quarter of a mile from the clubhouse, walking down Kibler Lane. In that man's backpack was a frozen turkey.
Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said the man — Allen Thurston, a 21-year-old Dollar General Store clerk — claimed the turkey as his. He told deputies he had stolen it from Winn-Dixie.
As the deputy escorted Thurston and the turkey in his cruiser to the grocery store to return the nabbed bird, the deputy heard about the clubhouse break-in — and the missing fowl. So they re-routed to the clubhouse.
Thurston said he stole the frozen turkey because he was hungry, a report states. He is charged with burglary and theft. He remained Thursday at the county jail in lieu of $5,150 bail.
Kietzer said she doesn't believe it was hunger.
"If someone was hungry, we'd be glad to give them a meal," said Kietzer, whose club often puts on dinners — roasted pork, spaghetti, corned beef and cabbage.
"I think they are young men who knew better," she said.
The other two suspects are at large.
Authorities returned the turkey to Kietzer, who put it back in the freezer.
They are still going to cook it.
"Oh, yeah," she said. "They didn't hurt it."
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6229.