Police crackdown on scavenging

SELF HELP: People help themselves to donations left outside the Salvation Army Family Store in Royal Oak.
SELF HELP: People help themselves to donations left outside the Salvation Army Family Store in Royal Oak.

Police are cracking down on repeat offenders "dumping and scavenging" at Salvation Army stores.

Quality donations left on the Sallies' doorstep are being stolen by others who in turn leave rubbish behind that isn't worth selling.

Onehunga Community Constable Don Allan says it's been a problem at the Royal Oak store on Mt Albert Rd for a couple of years.

Don Allan
Don Allan

But police have stepped up their efforts to curb the problem over the last four months.

Warning letters have been sent to 95 people identified by car registration plates.

Some offenders live nearby while others are from Mangere, Manurewa, Onehunga, West Auckland and Pakuranga.

Cars have been seen driving from one shop to the next on a couple of occasions where their occupants have helped themselves to donated items, Allan says.

"It's a really big issue.

"It's not just the Royal Oak shop, it's throughout Auckland. Being a not-for profit organisation it impacts on them."

The charity shop spends $20,000 a year getting rid of unwanted junk and rubbish, Allan says.

Stuff with "no value at all" including broken furniture, televisions and fridges and even empty paint tins are dumped there outside business hours and over the weekend.

"Very few items that are of any value are there come Monday morning," Allan says. "It's all been taken.

"They think it's their right."

Salvation Army family store consultant Kym McCarthy-Watson says the charity is grateful to the public for their donations.

"Most items that are given to us are fabulous and we can use them and sell or recycle them."

McCarthy-Watson says she can't put a dollar value on the issue but "it does cost us an extra recycling cost".

"It can be frustrating but we understand it given the business we're in.

"We have this across the board with the Family Stores. It's part of the trade with our business."

Allan says the problem has reduced by nearly 80 per cent since police got involved.

But it's ongoing, he says.

Police can issue trespass notices warning repeat offenders to stay away from a location for two years. Anyone in breach could be fined $1000 and face three months' imprisonment.

The Salvation Army is urging people to drop items off during business hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm, Wednesday 10am to 4.30pm and Saturday 10am to 4pm. Alternatively phone 639 1176 and staff can arrange collection.

Central Leader