DALLAS - Communities are built on relationships, cultivated over the years like at Veronica's Delicacies.

The family-owned business in the heart of South Dallas has been known for helping others, making sure the hungry get a free bite to eat. Now, that gift may be taken away by the very community the owner Veronica Hodges helped build.

Sitting right next to the DART track, Veronica's barely survived three years of construction with the street in front closed. Now that it's open, the new threat of crime has reared its ugly head; it's weakened the business many call a pillar of the community.

When I moved here, I was strictly bakery, Hodges said. But, because of the need in the community, I started cooking food.

For 19 years, Veronica's Delicacies has been selling soul food in South Dallas. Sometimes, they just give it away as well.

Sometimes, people come by, they need bus fare, we're just trying to help, Hodges said. ... I give jobs to ex-cons nobody else will hire; I hire them. Everybody needs help.

Now, it's Hodges who needs help since her shelves in the kitchen are now empty after items such as pots and steam tables were stolen.

Yesterday, we didn't have pots to cook, she said. So, today, me and my daughter brought our small pots just to cook to open up for today.

Burglars have targeted Veronica's six times in two months. They have broken in every window and every door, stealing everything from copper to cooked food, frustrating a figure so beloved, even some of the repair people donated their work.

It's not right, said Nathan Williams, a repairman. It's damaging for somebody trying to do right, do something for the community, do something for her people. It's ridiculous.

Hodges started her business in Richardson, but moved near Fair Park to serve to good people who needed good food. Now, a handful of bad apples are spoiling the chance.

To me, it's part of helping the community, but it's hard to help when they are tearing you down, Hodges said.

Most of the burglaries have happened on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. She has asked police to be extra vigilant on those nights, but last Wednesday they struck again.

Anyone with any clues should call the Dallas Police Department.

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