Stealing and dumping at op shop

A SPATE of brazen thefts from the Salvation Army donation bins in recent weeks has shocked staff and volunteers, and robbed the army of much-needed welfare money.

Captain Simon Mapleback said pilfering during the summer holidays had escalated, with the theft of a bar fridge and other items by one couple last weekend leaving staff reeling.

Security cameras captured the appalling behaviour of a man and a woman rifling through bags at the charity bins in Cunninghame St and leaving with their arms full of goods, before returning half an hour later with a car to take a bar fridge.

“It’s so disappointing to see people steal from us, because we use those goods to sell at our thrift shop so that we have money to provide welfare to those who need it,” he said.

“If people need help, they just need to come and see us, and we always do what we can.”

Captain Mapleback said the Wellington Shire community was a great supporter of the army’s work, and he didn’t want to spoil the goodwill with bad publicity.

“We don’t want to be negative as we have so many great members of our community that support us, but it’s always the minority that spoil it, and is taking away our help from so many that need it,” he said.

Captain Mapleback said CCTV had captured at least two of the recent thefts, but going to the police presented a difficult dilemma for the army.

“While we understand that things are desperate for some people, stealing is not the way.”

He said the Salvos, which provides food, welfare services and advocacy to at least 100 people every month in Wellington Shire, wants to continue building The Salvation Army’s work in Sale.

Dumping had also become a major problem, he said, with people who used the donation service as a rubbish dump undermining the army’s work, costing the welfare service around $600 a month in tip fees.

“The need is always increasing, but the finances to do it are always diminishing — especially with the dumping we are seeing here that’s costing us ridiculous amounts,” he said.

Thrift shop manager Heidi Taylor said volunteers tried to stay positive, but regularly emptied the bins to find broken and filthy goods that could not be sold and had to go straight to the tip.

Ms Taylor said she wanted to get the message out that donating goods that were clearly not able to be resold was leaving volunteers disheartened.

“We are always in need of volunteers, but it’s quite disappointing for them to come in week after week and have to sort through broken, dirty and smelly goods that should have gone in the rubbish bin,” she said.