FOX CROSSING, Wis. - Two men are in custody in connection with the theft of more than 1,700 cases of donated diapers that were destined for babies from low-income families in the Fox Cities of Wisconsin.
That's 100,000 diapers, worth more than $45,000.
United Way Fox Cities CEO Peter Kelly says the thefts occurred between January 3 and February 13 as his organization moved its diaper bank to a Valley Packaging Industries (VPI) facility. Both men -- John Forbes and Jason Havel -- were jailed and charged Wednesday with theft. Both are former VPI employees.
The theft involved 13 pallets of cases from the Fox Cities Diaper Bank, an initiative of United Way Fox Cities that gets widespread support from businesses, organizations and the community.
“That’s a lot of diapers and it serves a lot of people,” said Jason Weber, community liaison officer with the Fox Crossing Police Department. “This (theft) is a kick in the pants for a good program. That’s the sad part.”
Nanci Micke, vice president of marketing and communities for United Way Fox Cities, said the Diaper Bank provides diapers to 875 babies from low-income families every month. In 2016, the program supplied 300,000 diapers to babies in the Fox Cities.
Weber said investigators are unsure whether the cases of diapers were taken in a single theft or in a series of thefts. He believes that a tow motor and truck would have been required to move the pallets out of the warehouse.
“They were there, and, all of a sudden, they weren’t there,” he said of the diapers.
Micke said organizers of the program “felt very sad” when they learned of the theft. Diapers are expensive, and the Diaper Bank is a valuable service to families who are hurting financially, she said.
“The main reason we all felt so terrible is they were donated diapers, and we know how important those diapers are to the families who receive them. It is a need for so many families.
“(The theft) is taking these diapers away from the families who are least able to afford them.”
Micke lauded the community for its support of the Diaper Bank. In addition to corporations, civic groups, churches individuals who donate to the cause, the program gets major assistance from Dollars for Diapers, a fundraiser launched by The Post-Crescent and supported heavily by Kimberly-Clark Corp.
“We get a lot of support from companies all over the Fox Cities,” Micke said. “I think it’s one of the most collaborative stories in the Fox Cities. It’s a very rewarding initiative — coming together to help our babies.”
The investigation into the theft continues, according to Weber, who said he was taken aback by the scope of the theft.
“This is a terrible thing,” he said.