WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Hutchinson police said thieves have swiped donations from the Salvation Army Thrift Store numerous times in the month of June.
James Dixson is the store manager and he prides himself on the work he does and the relationships he makes with his customers at the store.
“It’s embedded in my soul what the Salvation Army does and is capable of doing to help individuals in hard times,” James Dixson said.
Dixson’s parents were involved with the Salvation Army when he was a kid. He said at times his family would rely on the organization and the services it provided.
“There were times when we depended on them to help get us out of a jam and they were there for us,” Dixson said.
Dixson is now asking the Hutchinson community to step up and help identify the people who are continuing to steal from the thrift store.
“They will take out one bag, they will load up three. It’s not a give and take,” he said.
Hutchinson police said they are investigating 10 theft incidents at the thrift store. They said seven of the cases occurred on June 11 between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. near the donation drop-off area. There are surveillance cameras and signs saying ‘stealing is a crime’ posted at the location.
“That’s very frustrating,” Dixson said. “Every time that happens, you are taking away an opportunity for us to pay it forward.”
Dixson said when people aren’t stealing donations, they are often times using the drop off area as an illegal dumping site for items like moldy appliances and broken furniture.
“They are dropping off stuff because they don’t want to take the trip to the landfill,” he said.
Dixson told KSN if the crimes don’t come to a stop sometime soon, there could be major consequences for the people the Salvation Army serves.
“If the good stuff keeps walking, then we have to find a balance. Do we consider raising prices? Do we consider cutting services? We don’t want to do either,” he said.
For now, the Salvation Army is urging residents to only drop off donations during business hours.
Hutchinson police have posted some photos of the suspects on social media. They say they have been able to identify several of the suspects, thanks to tips.