Police: Van used for acts of kindness stolen from South Hempstead home

Tommy Maher uses the van to deliver several thousand pounds of food each week to a pantry and has driven it around the country to areas where there have been mass shootings. He honors the victims by doing acts of kindness in their names.

Cecilia Dowd

Oct 6, 2023, 10:10 PM

Updated 196 days ago

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South Hempstead resident Tommy Maher woke up early Thursday to discover his "Pay It Forward" van, parked outside his Oak Street home, had been stolen.
Maher uses the van to deliver several thousand pounds of food each week to a pantry and has driven it around the country to areas where there have been mass shootings. He honors the victims by doing acts of kindness in their names.
He said when he first began doing acts of kindness, he poured his own money into the endeavor, even refinancing his home to be able to pay for everything. He said he and his wife looked at it as an “investment in humanity.”
Maher says he was inspired by the kindness of so many people he witnessed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. He also does his acts of kindness in memory of his friend, firefighter Joe Hunter, who died on 9/11.
The Nassau County resident calls the van “Bessie.” He says he has clocked over 100,000 miles doing his acts of kindness across the country. He says when it was stolen, it was empty except for a Bible, which was a gift from a friend.
A surveillance camera in his neighborhood captured footage of the van being driven away shortly after it was stolen.
Police are asking anyone with information to call Nassau Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.


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