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Thefts “frustrating” for Habitat ReStore

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Cathy Dobson

Despite surveillance cameras and five arrests, thefts are continuing to occur at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on London Line.

Outdoor cameras installed in May have revealed at least 12 suspects, Sarnia Police say. A video compilation widely circulated last month (https://youtu.be/BgLNPOPb1a4) resulted in the arrest of five individuals.

The value of the stolen goods stolen over the past year is at least $10,000 and could be much higher, said Sarah Reaume, Habitat for Humanity’s executive director.

That’s because donors drop off items for the non-profit organization after hours, leaving them outside near the door.

“Before we can get them inside, other people are coming and helping themselves in the night,” said Reaume.

“Please, if you’re making a drop-off, do it during business hours so your donations aren’t disappearing before we can get them in the door.”

Habitat for Humanity ReStore sells donated furniture, appliances and building materials. Proceeds help finance the homes built by the philanthropic organization for those in need.

“A $10,000 loss is one-tenth of a house,” said Reaume.

Thefts from the 1787 London Line store appeared to escalate late last fall. The building has security and has never been robbed, but locked e-waste containers beside the ReStore were repeatedly targeted, as well as a locked outdoor cage containing propane tanks.

In June thieves broke into a trailer used on construction sites for Habitat builds and took about $7,500 worth of power tools, hand tools and safety equipment, Reaume said.

“They took a bin with binders full of house permits and volunteer signup sheets,” she said.  “Those things are worth nothing to them but impact our ability to work at our job sites.”

The surveillance cameras showed numerous people dressed in balaclavas and hoodies taking hours to loot the trailer.

“Not only were we upset, but the community was upset,” she said.  “We had people who responded with cheques and money. One man was so angry he put his own tools in his truck and drove over here and donated them.

“I suppose that’s the silver lining,” said Reaume. “It’s validating to see the rest of the community is as upset as we are.”

Habitat’s board posted a $1,000 reward for information and the thefts stopped for a while but have since resumed.

“It’s very frustrating,” Reaume said.

Sarnia Police Const. Les Jones said the five arrests are not connected to the June trailer theft. Each has been charged with theft under $5,000, he said.

“Tips are drying up now and we want to get this out in the public again.”

If you can identify anyone in the video please contact Detective Constable Jeff Rovers at 519-344-8861, ext. 6159, or Sarnia Lambton Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

 

 

 

   

 

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