Thieves targeting town charity shops

CHARITY shops in the town are being plagued by thieves who go through their bins and steal donations on a regular basis.

Both the DebRA shop and Oxfam have reported problems which are cheating supporters and the organisations themselves.

Last week the Review reported that thefts of donated items from the PDSA shop were costing the charity thousands of pounds and forcing it to increase running costs by escalating its home collection service.

Items have been taken from outside the High Street shop, where they were left overnight or in the early morning, as well as by bogus charity workers who have intercepted collections from homes in the local area. On one occasion around 700 collections sacks were issued and only two were handed over to the PDSA, with householders claiming there had already been a collection.

Similar problems have also arisen at the DebRA shop with donations being lifted from outside in broad daylight.

Manager Claire Jaycock said that although there have been few instances recently, the issue has been long-running.

She said: “We’ve always had a problem. With the passageway beside us, people steal the bags from in front of the shop door and go up the close into gardens and rip the bags open to see what’s inside, scattering everything to go through it.

“I haven’t noticed an increase in it happening but because we’re beside the close it’s easier for people to pick the stuff up and get out of sight.

“I think it helps that the nearby CCTV camera covers our door but I think the PDSA might be on a blind spot. The best thing people can do is to not leave bags outside at all, although we’ve had signs up saying that and people have left them anyway. I suppose they do it when it’s convenient for them.”

Neither the Barnardo’s shop or Shelter said they were aware of problems with stolen donations although Barnardo’s manager Anna Pirie said she does know of instances of it happening.

She said: “Sometimes there’s a spate of it but I’m not aware of anything being lifted from the door lately. If someone leaves something at 7am and we aren’t here until 9am we can’t really tell something has been taken unless it has actually been seen.

“We don’t have a problems with people going through bins because ours are all inside.” A spokeswoman for the Cancer Research UK shop also said staff are not aware of thefts from outside the shop.

She said: “Because we have parking outside people can stop easily and drop items off at almost any time so it’s probably not so much of a problem.”

Oxfam manager Jim Fraser said the biggest issues for his staff are thefts and bin-raking from dustbins which have been left out overnight in Orange Lane for collection.

He said: “We don’t open until 10am and close at 4pm so people on the way to work leave black bags at the door and quite often stuff goes missing and I know people have seen it but just haven’t reported its as they haven’t wanted to get involved.

“Bin-raking is very regular and we can find our bins moved quite a distance up the street to quiet closes where they’ve been tipped upside down and it’s all been raked through. We haven’t been able to catch anyone yet.

“It means that the bins can only got out about 10 minutes before they’re due to be emptied. It’s probably a problem because we’re off the High Street, although we recycle to the extreme and there’s rarely anything in them worth taking.”

The simple advice from charities to their supporters is not to leave donations sitting out overnight and hand them in to the shop in person during opening hours.

Anyone wishing to arrange a home collection by the PDSA can contact the local shop on 01674 673276 and anyone who sees anything suspicious around the shops can contact Tayside Police on 0300 111 2222.