Less than one month after the Exchange Club of Killeen donated a new Ford F-250 cargo van to the Killeen-area Meals On Wheels Program, two of its wheels were stolen.

On Thursday morning, as Killeen volunteer Van Robinson finished packing up the vehicle with hot meals to deliver to area seniors, he noticed something strange about the front tires.

“I happened to do a little spot check of the vehicle,” Robinson said. “Not only were they old but they were cracked.”

Volunteers at the nonprofit suspect that over the weekend somebody had jacked up the vehicle, which had been parked at the center since Saturday, and swapped the new tires with a pair of old, bald and cracked tires.

“These tires were so old you would not want to trust them,” Robinson said. “They would not have passed inspection.”

Estella Macias, who has volunteered with Meals On Wheels for 30 years, replaced the damaged tires for about $430 out of pocket.

Meals On Wheels delivers about 2,000 meals per month to homebound seniors in Killeen, Harker Heights and Nolanville. On a single day, it delivers 99 meals.

On the same day volunteers discovered the tires had been stolen, the three other delivery vans were out of service due to mechanical failures.

The food was delivered, Macias said, despite the hurdles.

“We do what we have to do because the people need their meals,” Macias said.

Meals On Wheels is funded by the Hill Country Community Action Association Inc.

Because of recent cutbacks and budget constraints, many centers have had to close down, Robinson said. Losing donations after it has received them is not an option for the nonprofit.

“We’ve been here for 44 years and this is the second incident,” Macias said. “We are going to take extra precautions.”

To donate to the HCCAA or Meals On Wheels, call (325) 372-5167.

If you have information about the stolen tires, call the Killeen Police Department at (254) 501-8830.

Contact Brandon Janes at bjanes@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7552

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