WATCH: The Salvation Army in the Comox Valley says theft and people leaving donations outside of business hours is costing the business thousands of dollars a year.
Just before daybreak on Thursday, a surveillance camera recorded a man jumping into a waste bin behind a Salvation Army thrift store in Comox.
He rummaged through both bins in front of the camera. One bin had wood products, the other metal. It’s a scene that repeats itself over and over.
“Pretty much every night, every single night,” said Dawn Borgen, operations manager for the Salvation Army in the Comox Valley. “I can come in here every morning and see the activity on our new surveillance system and people are either on foot and lots of people in vehicles.”
People are either stealing items that could make the Salvation Army money or leaving things that clearly aren?t meant as donations.
“Well, it?s very frustrating because people are causing us a tremendous amount of grief. They?re making a mess, they?re illegal dumping,” added Borgen.
And it?s all happening right under signs that say “No Dumping” and “Security Cameras in Use.” Another sign that asks people to make their donations during business hours.
But instead, staff arrive at work in the morning to find a mess. Donations either just dumped like it?s the dump or rummaged through by pickers in the night.
“When they drop their donations off after hours, it?s getting left outside and they are subject to the elements,” said the Salvation Army’s Community Ministries Director Brent Hobden. “They get rained on, they get picked through by people who are walking by and then in the morning, we?ve got a team of people who?ve got to come in and they face a mess.”
And much of it ends up having to go to the landfill costing the Salvation Army $60,000 a year in the Comox Valley alone.
“We usually sell about 50 per cent of what we receive,” added Hobden.
The problem of dumping is plaguing the Salvation Army across the island.
“It?s rampant across the island, whether it?s people stealing donations, whether it?s people dropping off after hours when we?re not open,” said Hobden.
He says drop-off bins are no longer an option because people either sleep in them or set them on fire.
Hobden encourages people who want to donate to do so during business hours.