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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 8 April, 2020

St Vincent de Paul down €1 million as gangs raid charity clothes bins

Children are being pushed into the secondhand clothing bins and then they pop the clothes back out again.

Image: Shutterstock/bikeriderlondon

SAINT VINCENT DE Paul says it has lost around €1 million as a result of gangs raiding the charity’s second hand clothing containers.

Around 100 clothes banks operated by Vincent de Paul throughout Cork are being constantly targeted.

In 2013 Prime Time did an investigation which showed gangs stealing from clothes banks and selling the clothes in Eastern Europe. Brendan Dempsey of SVDP said, “It has started up again and it has got increasingly worse”.

Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1, Dempsey explained how thieves are getting access to the bins by cutting through the doors or putting small children inside them.

It has shown up on CCTV cameras in car parks in shopping centres where you could see children being pushed into the bin and then they pop the clothes back out again.

He remarked that this is very dangerous for the children involved, describing how the fire brigade were once called out to get a child out of one of the bins.

A fortnight ago, we went out to a container and the front door of a steel bin had been sliced off with an angle grinder.

He added that they had unbolted the padlock from the inside of the door to get a key cut meaning SVDP had to change all the locks on their bins which was “a huge cost”.

Dempsey said theft is costing the Irish charity sector millions with SVDP just one of many affected, “We’re estimating that in the past five years we’re probably down €1 million.”

It’s a huge source of income for us, in the Cork region last year we just topped €2 million gross and this would have gone directly into the number one account for the poor, to help families.

Asked what he believes the thieves are doing with the clothes, he said, “They’re selling them somewhere. They are being shipped out of the country.

“They’re not being stolen to be worn by the people who are stealing them, they’re making money out of it, they’re selling them somewhere.”

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