The Mills Memorial Hospital Auxiliary has closed its donation bin after reports of vandalism and theft over the last few months.
“We’ve never had trouble like we’ve had this year,” says Marg Petrick, store manager.
Over the summer, thrift store staff say they’ve had to clean up donations and household garbage strewn outside the bin almost daily.
Then in September, four people were arrested after Terrace RCMP were called to the thrift store. Police located ripped donation bags, clothing tossed around, and a group of people with items from the bags. Two people were also located inside the donation bin.
Two men, a woman, and a teenager were arrested and released on a Promise to Appear in court.
“We’ve got a little bit more of a positive attitude now that we’ve got the backroom cleared out and we’re not picking up stuff all over the yard all the time,” Petrick says.
Though she says there are still security concerns.
On Oct. 30, staff discovered the locking mechanism for the donation bin had been tampered with.
“They’ve cut behind the bar so that it looks like it’s locked, but they can actually get into it,” she says.
Petrick suspects there are others trying to get into the donation bin, either to take items out or to use the bin as a place to sleep. She says the store is now looking at installing an anti-loitering device that emits a high-pitched noise to discourage people from staying on the property.
A welder has been called to repair the lock within the next couple weeks. In the meantime, the store is still accepting donations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.