BBQ used by charities stolen from storage

FRESNO, Calif.

The thieves raided the storage facility for a catering business. It was locked up and fenced in -- on West near Ashlan in Northwest Fresno.

The barbecue has been used at several fundraisers -- helping groups like the blood bank and cancer patients. It's homemade, huge, and hard to mistake.

"Got some tri tip there and I think he's got some bell peppers going," said Xavier Flores as he looked at old pictures of his barbecue.

Six feet by four feet and covered in meat, the big barbecue and grill is one of Flores' proudest creations. He made it himself out of two giant gas tanks to use for his family's catering business.

"The unique part of it is the tanks," Flores said. "The tanks really stand out. I've never seen one in this town."

He may never see it again.

Late Thursday night or early Friday morning, thieves smashed through a locked gate, unhinged a locked fence, and drove off with the barbecue.

Flores has insurance to cover the $4000 loss, but it's been worth more than that, and not only to the business.

Parker's Team is one of many Valley charities to use the barbecue at fundraising events. It's named in honor of Parker Fritsch, the young boy who fought off leukemia and sold artwork to benefit Children's Hospital. Parker's mother told Action News the theft is sad, but Flores has something of a backup plan.

"Say Parker's Team or somebody like that were to call you today and say, 'Hey, we need a barbecue for this weekend.' What would you be able to do for them?" a reporter asked Flores.

"I'd say we better get that thing going over there," he answered as he pointed to his other big barbecue. It needs some serious work, but it could be refurbished in a pinch.

For now, though, Flores is more concerned with protecting his property. He said thieves have hit the fenced-in storage area more than ten times in the last four years. This one hurts the most.

"It's not a good feeling when it happens on a periodic basis and we've had a lot of little stuff stolen, but nothing like this, so that's the hard part," he said.

Flores says he filed a police report Friday, and officers seem to be patrolling the area more often. He has a couple ideas for better security, too: higher fences, nighttime security officers, or off-site storage.

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