WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A popular Wilmington food truck was vandalized, and police investigators are trying to catch the criminal.
On Thursday morning, a Vittles food truck employee discovered exterior and interior damage to the company’s vehicle parked in its commissary on Oleander Drive.
A food truck commissary is its home base, where the vehicle is stocked, cleaned, and maintained.
“Someone came in and destroyed our awning, first off, climbed through the window," Vittles owner Todd Champion said. "I can’t disclose everything that went on inside the truck due to the police investigation, but they did their very best to destroy us as a business and we’re not going to tolerate that.”
Champion discussed the food truck’s vandalism and asked for the public’s help identifying any suspects in a Facebook video, which has been viewed more than 11,000 times as of this story’s publication.
Champion said the vandal or vandals broke in, damaged the vehicle, spilled chemicals, and left the grill’s fire lit. Crime scene investigators collected evidence of the damage.
“These attacks are personal,” Champion said in the video. “I hope our village can help catch you.”
Vittles food truck — voted a WECT Fan Favorite — was forced to cancel events on Thursday and Friday, including a fall festival at Champion’s daughter’s school.
“We were booked to go out to my daughter’s school today, and having to explain to my 5-year-old that daddy’s food truck is not going to be there was definitely the worst part of this entire thing for me,” said Champion. “None of my employees were injured, but having to look into my 5-year-old’s eyes and say, ‘Daddy’s truck is not going to be here, baby,’ that was tough.”
Vittles employees worked all day Thursday to clean the truck and restore it. They plan to be at their regularly scheduled events on Saturday.
Champion and his team stepped up during and immediately after Hurricane Florence to serve hot meals to people. They participate in fundraisers, schools events, and other community outreach.
“This is one of the businesses I purchased to give back to the community,” said Champion.
WECT reached out the Wilmington Police Department to learn about the status of the investigation.
“The official report (which includes the narrative) has not been approved yet, but I can tell you that we have assigned a detective to the incident and are actively investigating it,” said Jennifer Dandron, a WPD spokesperson. “If anyone has any information, we ask them to please contact WPD at 910-343-3609 or use Text-A-Tip.”
Champion said he believes the vandalism amounts to several felonies, but acknowledged the damage could have been worse.
“It could have been a lot worse had the gentleman that actually runs the truck for me not got here in time,” said Champion. “If we wouldn’t have caught it, not only my truck would have been damaged, but possibly the entire shopping center. It could have been catastrophic.”