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Pastor saddened by burglary at Hudson charity's warehouse

The Rev. Jim Campbell’s organization, the Rope Center, keeps 30,000 blankets, thousands of ready-to-eat meals and other provisions for the needy at this warehouse in Hudson, which was burglarized and vandalized recently.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

The Rev. Jim Campbell’s organization, the Rope Center, keeps 30,000 blankets, thousands of ready-to-eat meals and other provisions for the needy at this warehouse in Hudson, which was burglarized and vandalized recently.

HUDSON — The Rev. Jim Campbell unlocked the warehouse door that's been boarded up with plywood for years. On the wood, spray paint spelled out a plea to conspiring vandals: "Nothing left."

The doors have been that way since before Campbell's organization, the Rope Center, which gives food and living assistance to the homeless, bought the warehouse. The words aren't true: the building holds 30,000 blankets, thousands of ready-to-eat meals and other provisions for the needy. Now it serves as a reminder of how even a charity can fall victim to greed.

On Aug. 4, deputies say, Caleb Overbey and Allison Pfiffer, both 18, slipped through a hole they made in the siding and took up residence inside. They ripped open several pallets, $480 worth, of ready-to-eat meals donated to feed the homeless and scattered them across the floor.

They found military cots being stored by Pasco County Stand Down, an organization that helps homeless veterans, and slept on them, making them unusable, according to a Pasco Sheriff's report.

Deputies found a forklift in the warehouse with its ignition destroyed. The teens apparently hot-wired the machine and drove it around, crashing into walls and ruining a door they tried to pry open with the fork. They opened boxes of donated blankets and tried to burn them.

Another man, Kevin McKenzie, 20, stole some CamelBak water bladders from the military supplies and pawned them at a nearby shop, the report states.

Warehouse manager Daniel Shields found the damage on Friday and called authorities. Campbell came to survey the place. "It was flung from one end of this place to the other," he said Monday on another visit to the warehouse.

Among the debris, deputies found a prescription pill bottle with Overbey's name on it and a high school diploma and bus pass with Pfiffer's name. The deputies called over to the Rope Center, a few miles away at 14121 Water Tower Drive, where Overbey and Pfiffer happened to be that afternoon, getting assistance from Campbell's charity.

Overbey and Pfiffer were both charged with burglary. They remained at the Land O'Lakes jail Monday in lieu of $5,000 bail each. McKenzie was charged with providing false proof of ownership to a pawn shop. His bail was set at $10,000.

Campbell wiped away tears as he talked about the burglary. He said the Rope Center would have given them better accommodations than what, deputies say, they found when they broke into the warehouse. He tries to make sense of why someone would do that, but he can't.

"You try to do everything for people, and it just seems like a one-way street," he said. "I'm all right with it, I guess."

Contact Alex Orlando at (727) 869-6247 or aorlando@tampabay.com.

Pastor saddened by burglary at Hudson charity's warehouse 08/25/14 [Last modified: Monday, August 25, 2014 10:34pm]
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