PITTSBURG — Theft can be a big problem for any business. However, for one that relies heavily on donations, theft can result in loss of staff and programs. A reality that the Salvation Army in Pittsburg would like to avoid.
They are seeking the public's assistance to help curb theft at their offices, which has caused thousands of dollars of revenue to be lost.
According to the Pittsburg Corps Officer for the Salvation Army, Lt. Mylie Hadden, recently people have come to the dropoff station and stolen items left for the Salvation Army resale shop.
The items include large furniture — which sells well in the store and helps fund the programs the Salvation Army uses to help local people.
“We have people pulling up in trucks and loading lots of stuff up,” Hadden said. “We want to help people, but this is theft, those items they are taking are supposed to be sold here, to fund our programs.”
Hadden was adamant that the people taking these items are not homeless or in need. She explained that the staff have a very good relationship with local people suffering from homelessness.
“They know just to come in and ask if they need something,” she said. “They don’t need to steal it.”
The Salvation Army has a full security system, and has video of the thefts. A video showed to the Morning Sun appears to show identifiable individuals in a truck taking several items, including a wood dresser which Hadden said would have sold easiy in the store.
“The loss of the furniture is difficult, because it’s hard for people to find affordable furniture,” Hadden said. “So not only do we lose money, but people who need to be able to source something affordable for their home here can’t.”
Hadden said her staff has tried to curb the thefts by coming in when they are closed to bring items into the warehouse before they are stolen. Although Hadden said many items are gone within a very short period of time.
They have also put up signs warning donors to not leave items after hours due to theft. If donors are unable to make their donations during business hours Hadden said she and her staff would be happy to meet them at the building, or pick up the donations in order to keep them from being stolen.
“We are so grateful for our donors. They make all of this possible,” Hadden said. “So we want to treat those donations with respect.”
Hadden said she has informed the Pittsburg Police Department, who have been helpful, but hopes the situation will clear up without having to arrest anyone.
“We are prepared to file charges, but hopefully with the public’s help we can get this stopped.” Hadden said.
The Salvation Army is requesting that the public to be aware of their building as they go about their day. If they see anyone loading items to call PPD, especially on days or times when staff is not in the building.
Hadden cautioned the public not try to stop people as a previous attempt by staff to stop someone stealing donations ended in an altercation.
“This situation has become a safety matter for us now, so we need to get a handle on it,” Hadden said. “We don’t want to put up high fences so we look like a compound though. This is a place of help and of service.”
She also stressed that she hopes the people who have been committing the thefts read the media reports and stop.
“We will press charges now,” Hadden said. “We don’t have a choice at this point, it affects how much we can help others when we lose revenue through stolen donations. We have to be there for the people we serve, and have made commitments to help.”