Donations to ashes

HEARTLESS vandals have destroyed hundreds of dollars worth of donations destined to help Bundaberg's needy, after setting alight a Lifeline donation bin on Sunday morning.

Lifeline business manager Andrew Armstrong said the bin was full of clothing when the arsonists struck.

“There was a couple of bales-worth of donations in there,” he said.

“It was potentially worth hundreds of dollars, and it will cost another couple of hundred dollars to fix.”

He said it was hard to put a value on the lost donations, as they may have included valuable items such as quality clothing and antique jewellery.

“It's so disappointing because it shows the carelessness of people who don't care and don't think about who they are going to hurt with their actions,” Mr Armstrong said.

“The money we raise from the donations goes to keep our telephone counselling line running, because we receive no government funding.”

But Mr Armstrong said it was far from a one-off event, with thieves and vandals targeting the charity shop's bins on a weekly basis.

After a string of thefts from bins at Princess Street last winter, Mr Armstrong said the charity installed surveillance cameras to catch criminals in the act.

“But we still see people going through our bins and boxes at least once a week,” he said.

“They flaunt the cameras, they just don't care.”

Mr Armstrong said it was frustrating to see valuable items disappear from right under the noses of staff.

“Pushbikes are probably the worst, they are pretty quick to go if they are left at a bin,” he said.

“But it's also other things like bags of clothing and electrical items.”

He said all footage of the thefts was kept, and could be handed over to police to help in prosecutions.

For the past six months, the Princess Street Lifeline store has been opening seven days a week to help curb the thefts.

“We have to pay a man to come in on Sundays just to take care of the donations,” Mr Armstrong said.

“If it won't fit in the bin, we ask people to bring in their donations while the shops are open, or give us a call between Monday and Friday, and we can come and pick it up.”

Anyone with information about the bin fire is asked to telephone Bundaberg Police on 4153 9111. To arrange a donation, telephone the Lifeline warehouse on 4151 8800.

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