Hospital thrift shop targeted by thieves

It’s stealing.

Volunteers at the Oppor­tunity Shop on St. David Street North have been coming into work for months now only to discover that donations drop­ped off overnight have been stolen.

Manager Bernice Demers said in an interview on Mon­day, “It’s been going on for quite a while. We hadn’t realiz­ed how bad it was.”

But surveillance tapes show there are regular visits to the drop-off centre behind the store, which helps to fund pro­jects at Groves Hospital.

Those visitors, though, are there to take, not to give.

“These people who are stealing from us don’t appear to be in need,” Demers said, not­ing they regularly arrive in a vehicle.

“One man takes bags of clothes,” she said. “One wo­man appeared to be with her grand­daughter.”

Another couple helped themselves to wicker baskets just before Christmas, and Demers suspects they might have used them for gifts.

She knows that through viewing the tapes. She has post­ed pictures of those who help themselves in the drop-off area and also at the front of the store, in the hope that someone can identify the perpetrators.

If that happens, Demers said she will press charges.

“I’ve told the police I will press charges,” she said. “It [the stealing] is not right. My volunteers work so hard.”

Particularly disgusting is the woman who regularly drops off large bags of garbage at the depot. She called that person’s drop-offs “big bags of crap.” Other late night visitors root through donations and toss goods all over the shed while searching for things they want.

The donations are sold and the Opportunity Shop is one of the biggest fundraisers for the Groves Hospital Auxiliary, which helps to pay for equip­ment and amenities for the community hospital in Fergus.

Demers said she wants donors and those who support the Opportunity Shop to be aware of what is going on, and to encourage them to make their donations during the day. Donations can be dropped off Monday to Friday, from 8am to 4pm and on Saturdays, 9am to 4pm.

The shop is also open 10am to 4:40pm Tuesday to Sat­urday.

Demers said donations are down this time of year, and yet she is forced to lock the shed because the shop recently got a large dona­tion of clothing.