GOODS for the needy have been raided in a spate of disheartening charity bin thefts across the region.
A member of the public, who wishes to remain anonymous, gave The Leader the tip-off after noticing a child siphoning contents from charity bins on his nightly jog.
The eyewitness saw a car pull up at the Salvation Army bins on the corner of Peel and O’Connell streets and a child climb into the bin and proceed to throw the contents to the driver.
The man said he saw the same act repeated at charity bins at the other end of Peel St and was bothered by the thought of people “ripping off” charities, prompting him to get in touch with The Leader.
The Salvation Army store’s Kathy Cain confirmed the eyewitness’ accounts, saying a number of bins had been broken into in the past few weeks after bolt cutters were used to gain access.
Ms Cain said she hated judging people if they were really in need, but said she would be upset if it was found to be blatant stealing.
She said she and her colleagues were “absolutely mortified” at the thought of a child rummaging through the bins as people often donated knives, cutlery and crockery which could easily cause harm.
Tamworth Police Acting Inspector Josh McKenzie said there was definitely no grey area when it came to taking donated goods.
“It is stealing if you take items from a charity bin. If it’s not yours, you can’t take it.”
He said stealing from a charity bin was a low act.
“It’s pretty miserable stealing if you’re taking from a charity,” he said. “Particularly with the nature of the work of the Salvation Army, if you need a hand they’ll give you one.”
John Winner, who collects the contents of the Salvos 11 bins every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, said they had just finished the costly exercise of putting new vandal-proof locks on all the bins last week.
Mr Winner, like Ms Cain, thought the culprits must be very needy to take second-hand clothes.
However, a St Vincent de Paul volunteer disagreed.
“Personally I don’t think it’s all people who are desperate. I think people drive past and like what they see,” she said.
The volunteer said it was often the items which couldn’t fit in the bins that were nabbed first, but many times she arrived at work to find clothes hanging out of the bins where people had tried to steal goods inside.
The Salvation Army is considering a review of its CCTV footage to try to catch the culprits.
Anyone with information, or who sees someone in the act, is urged to contact police.
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