Stealing from charity

Friday, January 21st 2005, 11:28 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa man thought his donations would help a family in need, but instead they were swiped by crooks and put up for sale.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says when John Kramer's daughter outgrew her baby things; he thought it would be nice to donate them. He made a trip to the Salvation Army Family Store, but it was after hours.

Llike many people, John left the items around back, for workers to find in the morning. It was later when he noticed a sign in his neighborhood, then saw for sale what he had given away. “First I saw the bassinet and I said hey that's just like ours, and then I saw the bag of toys and little toy box and I was like, wow."

Suspicious of how the would be sellers acquired their wares. John says he followed them to a Goodwill trailer and saw the people stocking up. "I think it's wrong, it's just not right, you donate that for families that need help, it's pretty low."

Milinda Esmond works across from the donation site. "People just drive by and they'll come by real slow to see what's there and then they'll take whatever they feel like taking." While shocking to some, unfortunately this crime is nothing new. The News on Six first learned of it several years ago, when our hidden cameras caught carload after carload of people helping themselves.

In fact, thieves are the reason the Salvation Army got rid of its outside donation boxes. Major Richard McConniel: “They were a convenience for our donors, but they soon became a place where donations were misused and mishandled and larger items left outside the box like this instance, they would vanish.”

Major McConniel says while his heart goes out to someone's who's allowed themselves to do something like this, he's also a little angry. While he's still going to give to charity, John's been changed by the experience. “It makes me not wanna just drop anything off, whoever needs it is probably not gonna get it."

Salvation Army officials say this is a good opportunity to remind donors how to help stop these thieves. They say please give items during the posted hours or call them for a pickup at your home.

That number is 583-6119.