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Angry Buffalo Olmsted Park Conservancy officials can join others in hoping this weekend’s snow storm, and the start of winter, is kinder to city parks than the thieves who stole about $5,000 worth of gear – including a snow blower – from the equipment storage facility at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

Thomas Herrera-Mishler, president of the nonprofit organization that operates the city’s historic parks, said staffers discovered the thefts when they came to work at 7 a.m. today.

Thieves broke into the storage facility overnight Wednesday by breaking down a recently rebuilt wall, and left a gaping hole in the building as they stole the snow blower, leaf blowers, string trimmers and other equipment.

“This came at just the wrong time,” with snow expected for the weekend, Herrera-Mishler said.

He said the theft also will be felt outside MLK park, because the equipment also is used at Front and Prospect parks off Porter Avenue,

Conservancy crews are rushing to rebuild the damaged wall and shore it up to resist further attacks, Herrera-Mishler said. Meanwhile, Buffalo police plan additional patrols in the park.

All of the stolen equipment was purchased during the past few years with money raised from private donations. A conservancy trustee has pledged to make match dollar-for-dollar all donations to replace the stolen equipment and fund the installation of surveillance equipment, Herrera-Mishler said.

The city provides one-third of the conservancy’s annual budget with remaining funds raised by the conservancy “to provide the citizens of Buffalo with remarkably clean and attractive historic parks,” the nonprofit’s president said.

”The work of the parks is supported by thousands of volunteers who donate their time and talent to the care of the Olmsted parks and parkways,” Herrera-Mishler added Thursday. “This job was made harder last night by the thieves who deprived the conservancy’s workers and volunteers of much-needed equipment.”

The conservancy president said more information about the conservancy or donations can be found online at www.bfloparks.org or by calling 838-1249, Ext. 10.

email: mgryta@buffnews.com