On Friday, Dec. 20, a volunteer with the Cleveland Area Food Pantry was driving by the facility, located on Hwy. 99 just west of Cleveland and noticed the pantry’s van was not there, according to Oklahoma Highway Patrolman Mark Sparks. Since the food pantry is not operational on Saturdays it sparked concern, that’s when they contacted Sparks, who is a food pantry volunteer to share their observation. Sparks called around to make sure no one had the van and when it could not be located it was report stolen to the police.
On Saturday, Dec. 21 Sparks made a Facebook post about the missing van with a description (red 1996 Dodge passenger style) and the post quickly spread over social media. The next day he received a text message from a friend saying one of his former classmates spotted the van in Tulsa. Sparks contacted the Tulsa Police Department and, sure enough, the white van with Western Heights Baptist Church still on its side, was found parked in the back corner of an apartment complex parking lot at 5254 S. Lewis Ave. in Tulsa. Sparks said the steering column was broken, but otherwise the van was operational. Sparks called a Cleveland wrecker service that retrieved the van. It’s currently being fixed. No arrests have been made.
Sparks commented, “Sometimes Facebook can get pretty bad, but in these instances Facebook really does work and it’s the reason our van was spotted and retrieved! I am really impressed with how the Facebook post was shared by so many, I was even contacted by Tulsa and Oklahoma City news media because they saw the Facebook post.”