Crime at the Jefferson City Salvation Army
The Jefferson City Salvation Army says people are ransacking donations left overnight in the outside drop-off point. The problem stems from people dropping off items outside after hours.
"During the night other people come along and they ransack and vandalize these donations," Jeanne Brant of the Salvation Army says.
Good donations are turned into trash.
"Almost every morning everything that's left has been scattered across the parking lot, anything that's good has been stolen, so what's left behind is usually unusable," Brant says.
Brant says whatever the thieves don't take they ruin -- running over items with their cars and dirtying clothing. And cleaning up the mess left behind is hurting the volunteers, most of whom are elderly.
"Several of us got very sick. Myself, I got walking pneumonia from it. The mess had to be cleaned up though," Brant says.
Sabrina Daniels buys her son's clothes at the thrift store.
"They provide a wonderful service to the community and it's just sad someone would steal from them," Daniels says.
Clean up costs the Salvation Army almost $20,000 more per year.
"That is taking away from what we could put into the charitable programs in Jefferson City," Brant says.
Police say they haven't caught any suspects--in part because the thieves stole the surveillance camera.
"I know that people that donate to the Salvation Army are donating because they want to help their community. But it is so important that they bring them during store hours. Otherwise the donations that they kindly leave are being ruined," Brant says.
Brant says thieves have been stealing outside donations for several years but the problem has escalated this month.