Charles Harper, operations manager for Jasper-based relief organization Missions Unlimited, said the problem is ongoing, but has been on the rise as of late.
“We have a drop box for donations, and people are just taking stuff out of it,” he said. “We have people who donate stuff to us, because they know that we are going to help people with it, and then someone else comes along and takes that. It’s just wrong.”
Officials with America’s Thrift Store and the Salvation Army said they have similar problems.
“We don’t have a drop box, but many times people leave items for us outside our door when we are closed,” said Lona Courington, director of the Salvation Army of Walker County. “We know there are many times that someone comes along and takes those items before we ever see them.”
Courington said items left outside the store are also many times destroyed by rain. She urged residents to drop off items during business hours.
“We want people to value the items they are donating,” she said.
“It’s not doing anyone any good if they are destroyed or stolen before they get to us.”
Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe said she has put the boxes on close patrol and advised businesses to put cameras on their drop boxes.
“It’s stealing,” Rowe said. “Our officers are watching all those type boxes closer at this time.”
Harper said Missions Unlimited has installed cameras and has captured some thieves on video.
“We already have a couple of people on our camera system,” he said. “If we can figure out who they are, we are going to prosecute. I am willing to offer a reward to anyone who can identify them for us.”
Rowe said anyone caught stealing donations will be charged with theft of property.
Anyone with information regarding recent thefts at area businesses are urged to contact the Jasper Police Department at 205-221-2121.
Harper said any person who can help identify the individuals he has caught on camera can contact him at 205-544-8784.