Pilfering of a Scouts Canada donation bin in Fredericton is limiting the opportunities children are able to take and increasing the costs for low-income families, the organization says.
Scouting is meant to offer children an opportunity to explore the great outdoors, and in Fredericton, that means events like a hiking trip to Mount Carleton.
“There’s a lot of rocks up there and there was a lighthouse up top, and I thought that was really cool,” said Ethan Geneau, a member of the 1st Nashwaaksis Scouting Group.
The costs for registration, uniforms and trips means scouting isn’t accessible to everyone.
To help fund the program for families who can’t afford it, a bottle box for glass and can donations has been placed in the parking lot of St. John the Evangelist Church in Fredericton.
Kerri Daamen, a leader for the 1st Nashwaaksis Scouting Group, said that for the past few years they have dealt with people stealing from the bin.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the thefts, Daamen said, adding as donations have increased, so has the number of thefts.
“It’s disappointing because there’s clear signage on the box what the redemption is for,” said Ross Geneau, Ethan’s father and another leader for the 1st Nashwaaksis Scouting Group.
“We’re averaging probably $100 a month now where it would have been over $500 a month before,” said Daamen.
“It’s not just our bottle box, it’s all around town.”
The group has reviewed surveillance videos and realized there were repeat offenders.
One incident saw a group show up in a U-Haul truck and quickly emptying the donation been in only a few minutes.
“First and foremost, how about you stop? If you’re in that much of a financial situation, there are other programs that you can reach out to,” said Ross Geneau.
The scout leaders would like the community to keep an eye out and report any suspicious activity in the church parking lot.
“They are cleaning out the money! That’s not going for the kids so we really want to focus on getting the money back to kids where it can be used,” said Daamen.
The organization has filed three police reports and provided them with video surveillance.
The Fredericton Force has an active investigation on file.