New Brunswick non-profits reeling from continued donation bin thefts, security threats

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N.B. charity’s donation bins vandalized
A thrift store that provides work experience to adults with mental health challenges had their clothing donations bins vandalized this week. It’s an ongoing problem for any organization that accepts clothing donations. Suzanne Lapointe reports – May 22, 2024

The employees at Ergon Thrift in Riverview got a nasty surprise when they came to work on Tuesday morning to discover piles of clothes on the ground.

“(Alleged thieves) went through and emptied everything out of all three bins, and it was all over the parking lot,” Ergon Inc. executive director Cory Thibodeau said.

The social enterprise offers programming and training to help their employees live with mental illness.

It took hours of cleanup and washing so the donations could still be sold.

“Had it been raining we would have lost everything,” he said.

Thibodeau said this isn’t the first time this has happened.

He said they’ve frequently had to spend money replacing locks that have been cut off the bins.

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His organization is looking at spending roughly $1,000 on security cameras for the bins, which he said is a significant investment.

“Every dollar that I have to spend elsewhere, I can’t spend on people that we’re trying to help,” he said.

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He said his staff has encountered people who were attempting to steal from the bins, which raises concerns for their security.

He’s also concerned for the people who go through the bins.

“One morning one of our employees went out to empty the bin, when he opened it there was someone sleeping inside the bin,” he said.

Dayzee’s Fashion, another thrift store in Riverview, has a bin designed to make entry impossible.

They are also dealing with frequent theft and vandalism, having reduced their number of bins in the community from 18 to just one.

“The different properties where we used to place them have kindly asked us to remove them because there is just always a mess, whether it’s our bin or the one beside it,” Dayzee’s Fashions manager, Candace Walsh, said.

“Sometimes we were spending $300 a week (replacing) locks,” she said.

The IWK Children’s Hospital Foundation has clothing donation bins in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as part of its fundraising efforts.

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Chad Millner, who manages the bins as part of his role as Operations Manager at LML Trading, said they’ve also dealt with property owners asking them to remove the bins because of theft and vandalism.

“In Moncton alone, we’ve lost, probably anywhere between 30 to 35 bin locations in the last year,” Millner said.

He said that was either because donations were frequently gone before they were able to collect them, or those who owned the property where the bins were located asked for them to be removed.

He said the cost of each bin has drastically increased due to the need for additional security measures.

“When we first started putting bins out, it was costing us, you know, seven, $800 per bins Now, with the upgrades we need to do for security. You’re pushing almost $2,000 for a bin that will will stop people from breaking in,” he said.

He’s calling on the public to alert the police if they see donation bins that have been broken into.

Global News reached out to the Codiac RCMP for comment Wednesday morning and did not receive a response in time for publication.

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