Donation collection bin theft a major problem - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Donation collection bin theft a major problem

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Lots of us give away clothing or household items. We often use collection bins as the drop-off point.

Sometimes, when a donation doesn't fit it's left next to the bin.

Guess who often move in... Thieves are taking donations.

This is going on across the country. Lots of charities have been hurt by the thefts.

Around here, The Salvation Army has been especially hard hit costing them at least $3,000 in one day. 

Charlie White is head of security for The Salvation Army in Birmingham. "At the first of the year it was not unusual to have as many as 10 to 15 different vehicles come during a Sunday, pull up, and just fill up. They're usually bringing it to a flea market or a garage sale and they're selling them. That's a problem."

It's no problem if a homeless person takes a pair of pants or a t-shirt. But, here's when it becomes a problem. 

"Some people, I think, sincerely believe that it's okay to take from behind a store. They think it's rejects. But they're not rejects, they're donations," says White. "We do have others that will back up a truck, and they'll take beds, they'll take TVs they'll take china cabinets, anything we have. And they may come back. And they may come back several times or several of them will come."

White has witnessed children stealing from the donation drop off sites. 

"Just in the past few weeks I've seen one that was a toddler, maybe three-years-old. I saw one car stop and four kids burst out of the car when it drove up and were immediately on the stuff, grabbing bicycles. Clothing and anything."

At these drop off locations you can find just about anything. From televisions to furniture, even a pontoon boat.

Liz Sherrell is the operations director of King's Home in Chelsea. King's Home works with at risk youth, as well as abused women and children. 

America's Thrift Stores collects donations on behalf of the King's Home. 

"The greatest need is clothing, household goods, that's generally what people want to receive or want to find when they go to a thrift store," says Sherrell. "We receive moneys through the donations that they have picked up. Without the donations, without the agreement, it would be a lot of financial support that we would not be receiving."

America's Thrift Stores have donation bins across Birmingham. The donations are collected weekly.

Sherrell says the good news, is they haven't encountered much theft. 

"We would do all that we could to track that down and do something about (thefts). It is kind of an obscure thing and difficult to track. But we would certainly do something."

At The Salvation Army, Charlie White says the majority of thefts take place on Sundays when the facility is closed.

White says, they've implemented a security presence at the drop off sites during non business hours. That seems to have helped. 

"They will not come and take things when we have a presence. When somebody is there, we don't have any problems," says White.

At one of the drop off locations in Trussville, the thefts got so bad that police issued several warrants.

White says, the warrants were meant to send a message

 "Not because we want to hurt anybody, not because we want to see anybody go to jail. We don't. We want to stop
this activity."




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