After recovering from break-in at the Community Hall in Oak Grove last month, the swap meet took place as usual in the tiny community of about 100 residents just east of Aguanga on state Route 79.
The crime occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 9. Thieves allegedly stole food and drinks that were slated for sale at the swap meet later that morning. The hall offers pancakes, eggs, nachos, loaded baked potatoes and hot dogs to people at the swap meet. They also provide canned sodas and bottled water. These supplies were stolen.
The criminals even left the refrigerator door wide-open for hours before the theft was discovered at 6 a.m. The refrigerator was not damaged.
One of the most disturbing things about the crime, the managers of the hall said, was the theft of one vendor’s entire stock of hand-crafted jewelry and a couple new Stetson hats. She and the other inside sellers had set up Friday afternoon in anticipation of the swap meet.
“I guess we will have to make more jewelry,” the seller whose products were stolen said.
“It’s a sad day in Oak Grove when (criminals) break into the Community Hall and steal the food that was purchased for our Saturday swap meet. Additionally, these people took many items from our local vendors who had tables set up and ready for a fun-filled day. I have since been informed that many businesses from the area including Lake Henshaw, Sunshine Summit, Julian, etc. have had recent robberies or attempted robberies. This is unacceptable!” a post on the Community Hall’s Facebook page said.
No suspects have been detained, Dave Redewill and Kelly Collard-Redewill, managers of the hall, said.
The hall-sponsored swap meet is held the second Saturday of the month and offers large seller spaces free of charge, both inside and outside the building.
The Oct. 14 swap meet went on without a hitch, and people from all over the area came to support the event and the hall. Food sales were brisk, and the chatter about the break-in was top news of the day.
Sellers came out in force, offering jewelry, homemade soaps, books, clothes, crafts, toys, kitchenware, tools, antiques and more. The pancakes, scrambled eggs, hot dogs, nachos, loaded baked potatoes and more were served up in the Community Hall’s spacious kitchen.
“We won’t let these crooks stop us,” Dave Redewill said.
The Oak Grove Community Hall is a historical landmark owned by the federal government. Dave Redewill and Kelly Collard-Redewill maintain and manage the building and grounds. The hall is available for rent for special occasions. For more information on the Hall or swap meet, call (951) 719-5017 or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Oak-Grove-Community-Hall-297664854014820.