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Salvation Army faces growing theft problem

The pilfering of items donated to the Pike County Salvation Army Thrift Store at 509 South Brundidge Street in Troy during after-hours continues to be of concern to Kim May, director of the Pike County Salvation Army Service Center and Thrift Store, and her advisory board.

May told the board at its June meeting that pilfering reached an almost unbelievable height when the planter on the storefront was stripped of the lantana and rosemary growing there.

“I had planted lantana and rosemary because they can take the heat and the sun,” she said. “We want the service center and store to look nice and flowers add a lot.”

Pilferers also took the pinwheels that had been placed in the planter in support of the Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center and the CAC awareness sign.

May said the pilfering of items left at the center during after-hours is a common occurrence.

“A lot of donated items are left at the storefront or at the back door during hours and days when the service center is closed and people come to plunder and to steal,” she said. “Sometimes, they take the bags and run. Other times, they will rummage through the bags, take what they want and the rest is scattered for us to cleanup.  Some people will even go through the dumpster. If the Salvation Army puts an item in the dumpster, then it obviously has no use.”

May said pilferers will often drag bags from the dumpster down the hill and into the bushes behind the businesses and go through the bags.

“A hole has been carved out in the bushes for them to hide in and go through the bags,” she said. “You can imagine the mess they leave.”

May said there is no limit to what the pilferers take.

“Someone has stolen the awning off the back door,” she said. “This is a huge problem for us. It discourages people from leaving donation items after hours and on weekend and that means a loss in revenue for our programs.

“Donations to the Thrift Store make it possible for us to offer shoes and clothing, furniture and household and miscellaneous items at affordable prices. The money from those sales is used to help stock our food pantry and provided necessary services to those in temporary need.”

May laughingly remembered the time an employee at an across-the-street business turned the trick on one pilferer who picked up the donation bags left after hours.

“He put a possum in a black, plastic bag and tied it up and put it at our door,” May said. “A camera caught a lady picking up the donated items which included the bagged possum. I would like to have seen what happened when she opened the bag and a possum came out on her.”

May said it wouldn’t take many possums jumping out of donation bags to reduce the number of thieves at the Salvation Army on South Brundidge Street.