How bad is crime in Baltimore? Just ask participants at last Saturday's anti-crime breakfast, whose meal was stolen when armed robbers held up the caterer.
"It took us by surprise, to be sure," said Deputy Police Commissioner Eugene Tanzymore Jr., one of several high-ranking police officials who attended. "When it came time to eat, we were told that the caterer was robbed. Who'd have ever thought?"
Marquis De-Lafayette Carr, owner of Glory to God Catering, scrambled to serve the breakfast after being robbed the night before of $800 in food, along with his rented 1992 Cadillac.
"It wasn't at the level it was supposed to be, but he still served tea and coffee and buns," recalled Baltimore Councilwoman Sheila Dixon, D-4th, who staged the meal at Liberty Medical Center.
The thieves took Mr. Carr's Danish pastry, fruit cups and bagels, along with his Cornish game hens, lump crab meat and green beans. Not to mention chicken salad stuffed in pineapple.
"The robbers don't know that crime doesn't pay. Their families are eating like kings," said Mr. Carr.
"They got over $800 in food. They even got my dishes."
Glory to God Catering primarily serves modest fare to church and community groups in the city, said Mr. Carr, 31, a member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Druid Hill Avenue. He runs the business out of his home.
Last Friday Mr. Carr had just been shopping -- stocking up on food items and flower displays for the following morning's breakfast -- when a man approached his car after it had stopped for a traffic light and rapped on the window with a sawed-off shotgun.
The gunman ordered Mr. Carr out of the Cadillac, and he and two other men drove off with it about 8 p.m. from the intersection of Auchentoroly Terrace and Gwynns Falls Parkway, police said.
At the breakfast, more than 100 city officials and community representatives, including a group of police officers, discussed crime, budget concerns and other urban problems.
Ms. Dixon said the program featured officers talking about city crime.
"They told us about community policing and what they were doing. They were quite comforting to us," she said.
The theft was a triple blow to Mr. Carr, who not only was catering the breakfast but also a luncheon and a dinner at city churches.
"The world is in a terrible fix," he said. "I had to go to Giant at 4 in the morning to buy back some of the items so I wouldn't disappoint people.
"They [the robbers] even got my coffee, fruit displays, cheesecake, a case of asparagus, and rolls."
He arrived to serve the food shortly after Ms. Dixon announced that breakfast had been stolen.
On Wednesday, Mr. Carr was notified police had found the Cadillac, and it has been returned to the rental agency. He is now driving his father's truck for his deliveries.
"There was no food in the car when it was found," he said. "I guess they've eaten it."