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Thieves targeted non-profit 11 times in a month

Lingford and her dog, Rolo, stand by one of the areas targeted by thieves at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. Lingford says whoever steals will park behind the dumpster and load their vehicle full of expensive metals.
June 24, 2014 - 4:31 PM

KAMLOOPS – “Frustrating” and “disheartening” are two words Jan Lingford uses to describe thieves targeting the disadvantaged.

The executive director of the Kamloops Habitat for Humanity non-profit says thieves stole from the branch’s supply storage facility 11 times last month. Copper, aluminum, and steel – metals the organization uses to build houses for those who can’t afford to buy one were targeted.

“They know what they’re looking for... they don't go for the scrap metal," Lingford said Tuesday afternoon.

Each donated metal piece is sorted into specific bins behind Habitat's warehouse. Lingford said thieves stole the lucrative metals from the bins on multiple occasions – mainly on evenings and weekends. 

“Our volunteers go through each and every piece that comes through the door, big or small... there’s quite a bit of work involved in getting it ready for recycling because you have to have only bare metal – you can’t have bits of plastic in with it.”

While workers at the warehouse lock up the gates for the path leading to the bins each night, Lingford said it still doesn't sway whoever is stealing. She said they will park a vehicle into an adjacent parking lot and walk down a small unfenced bank to help themselves to different donation bins - including the dumpster full of unsorted metals.  

"They climb right in there," Lingford said. "Then they drag it all up the bank and load it up in a vehicle and away they go."

Standing near the dumpster, Lingford said someone could really hurt themselves if they jumped in. The bin is full of glass and sharp shards of plastic, wood, metals and other materials.

Lingford and others are considering how to protect the donations. So far, it has been an investment in a large storage box to keep the metals locked up overnight. The box, although provided at a discount, has been an added cost which Lingford didn't think she'd have to budget.

Her team also filed a report with the Kamloops RCMP, which could help prevent future thefts – but won’t return the loss.

“We’ve lost thousands of dollars worth of income that we can’t recoup. That of course has all been donated to us by people who want to help Habitat build homes for families.”

The aluminum bin is under lock and key in a storage unit each night so it doesn't get pilfered.
The aluminum bin is under lock and key in a storage unit each night so it doesn't get pilfered.

Dumpster divers root through Habitat for Humanity's dumpster looking for metals which can sell for a high price.
Dumpster divers root through Habitat for Humanity's dumpster looking for metals which can sell for a high price.

To contact a reporter for this story, email gbrothen@infotelnews.ca, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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