Elkhart police step up for 72-year-old woman who lost food in theft

Elkhart police officers donated groceries to a 72-year-old woman who lost all her food in a burglary. // WSBT 22 photo

Elkhart police stepped up to help a woman who was the victim of a crime. Last week, someone broke into her home and took all her food. It was quite a blow since she lives on a fixed income.

That's when the officers stepped in.

Last week, the Elkhart Police Department was called to the downtown apartment of 72-year-old Barbara Whitener. She has to watch every penny especially when it comes to food.

Whitener told them someone stole all of her food. She was shocked.

“Because it’s all of the food I had in the house, and they took it, and I didn't have no money or nothing. I get food stamps,” Whitener said.

Elkhart Police Corporal Jim Ballard answered the call to take a theft report. Ballard, raised by his grandparents, couldn't let this call go.

“Getting the details, it made me angry that someone would prey upon an elderly person like that, so it touched my heart,” Ballard said.

He put a post on Facebook about the case. Initially police officers donated money to help her. Then several local businesses and residents saw it and pledged to help Whitener, donating money to help her buy food.

"Five-months worth of groceries, and we were able to replace Barbara's lock,” Ballard said.

“I was surprised, I was shocked. I couldn't believe it it was so shocking," Whitener said.

On any given day or week, police in Elkhart say they investigate a variety of things, some that catch their attention more than others. This was one of those.

“Sometimes you go to hundreds of calls, and you just get that one. And it’s like, ‘Man, this one kind of hits home.’ It makes you want to put forth that little bit of extra effort, effort to help that victim,” said Elkhart Police Sgt. Chris Snyder.

Police will drop off grocery gift cards to her once a month for the next five months.

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