East side grocery in food desert burglarized for 2nd time

Vandals strike grocery for 2nd time on Indianapolis east side

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH-TV) – A & I Variety Meat and Produce is temporarily closed after a burglary for the second time.

The store is at 8955 E. 38th ST. Owner Robert Hearst told News 8 he plans to repair and reopen in the food desert.

Hearst said he found his front window broken with glass on the ground and the store ransacked before opening the store Sunday.

“(I) got out (of) the car and started calling 911. I paused because emotions took over, and I think I sat out there for about an hour or so just crying like dang why me,” Hearst said.

Hearst mentioned he found blood on the store floor and his freezer wide open with food missing.

“They stole some rib eye steaks out of the freezer back there. I think they probably got like six of those, 30 pounds each, and they went out the back door. They took the security bar off the back door and went out the back door.”

There’s been an outpouring of support from the community since the break-in as people have been stopping by to give monetary donations. Hearst said A & I Variety Meats and Produce has been open since last year, but Hearst said it’s not going anywhere despite reoccurring crime. He believes the answer is bringing more resources to the community.

“The drug epidemic. You have a lot of homeless people over here now also,” Hearst said. “Just get more wraparound services over here. You have a cafe over there that’s doing a lot in the community, but even they need help with some things. They can’t do it all by themselves.”

“There are some efforts that are taking place. (Councilwoman) Keisha Jackson and others are working very hard along with us to solve that problem,” said east side community activist James Jackson. “I think very soon we’re going to see more grocery stores and hopefully it will solve the problem of there not being a food desert, but also solve the problem of people taking food without paying for it.”

The community is welcome to help clean and repair the store from noon-5 p.m. Saturday.