Thieves ransack charity donations

JAMES GREENLAND
Last updated 13:00 22/02/2013
Lois Palmer
MARION VAN DIJK/Fairfax NZ
A THIEVING DISGRACE: Lois Palmer and Peter Finn stand outside the St Vincent de Paul store that was targeted by thieves.

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Thieves have been taking donated household items left at a Nelson charity, while others have been dumping their household trash.

"I actually could have sat down and cried," St Vincent de Paul area president Lois Palmer said after the latest incident yesterday morning.

She arrived at the Vanguard St store to be greeted with a pile of other people's mess.

"It actually took us almost all day to clear it away, because we really don't have the volunteer staff to handle a mess like that.

"Just about every weekend there is something dumped," she said.

On Wednesday night Mark Newport, who owns neighbouring business Newport Light Engineering, saw at least three separate groups of people taking car loads of household goods from a pile that had been left outside the charity store.

"It's just like a bloody free-for-all," he said.

"By the time all the good stuff is gone, all that is left for [St Vincent] is rubbish. When [St Vincent staff] get there in the morning all they see is a pile of rubbish everywhere, you know old clothes and things because all the good bits get flogged.

"It's quite regular. We see it even during the day on weekends down here. If we don't get out there and put it away it's gone."

"I have caught a few trying to climb over their fence, and had to chase them off, couple times. It's not as if they sell it for a fortune anyway, when they do, because it's donated stuff you know."

St Vincent de Paul is not the only charity in the area affected by thieves and litterers, Mr Newport said.

"We have got the Red Cross across the road, and I see stuff getting left in front of there too. Not as much as what is left over here, but people go through that as well."

Mrs Palmer said the Catholic charity relied on donations and deposits of recyclable property, and did not have enough money to continue taking people's rubbish to the refuse centre.

"What we get we sell, or give away if people are in need. And it costs us, when we send the skip, about $180 per load. I mean that's $180 we can't spend on people that are in need.

"I think a lot of people know we have a skip out back, and think, oh well . . ."

St Vincent Nelson were spending an unsustainable $360 every three months taking other people's rubbish to the refuse centre, Mrs Palmer said.

Police told her that because the driveway was on private property, they could not do anything.

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Mrs Palmer said a security light was installed outside the property, but it was too expensive for the charity to install security cameras.

- The Nelson Mail

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