Lufkin police investigating as Goodwill faces rise in donation bin theft

Lufkin Goodwill faces rise in donation bin theft
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 3:09 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2023 at 6:36 PM CST
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - In recent weeks, Goodwill has reported dozens of thefts happening right outside of their donation bins.

“It’s disappointing because I see the volume of donations. We have a lot of generous donors that are bringing in things after hours and most of these things are lost,” said operation manager Jennifer Autrey.

Autrey reviews the security cameras daily and in the last 30 days, she said she has seen at least 50 thefts occur. She said the loss of the donations negatively impacts their ability to do their mission to repurpose the items., but not only that.

“It leads to extra work for our people who are having to sort through a lot of things that are ruined. We’re left with a lot of piles of trash; things that have to go in the landfill that would not have to otherwise,” Autrey said.

Autrey also encourages donors to drop off items during regular business hours so they can be properly placed and have fewer thefts occur.

CEO Kevin Bradford said thefts happen year after year but increase during the winter season.

“There’s a chance, a good chance lately, that it’s going to get rummaged through and it’s really not going to go for the purposes you’re donating it for.”

Bradford said safety concerns also arise as some people have been caught on camera crawling into the bins, “and we don’t know what somebody else might have put in there, so what they might be falling into could be a set of household knives.”

Communications director of the City of Lufkin, Jessica Pebsworth, said police are investigating. Those involved will face charges once caught.

“So, whenever you go onto someone’s property and take items that have been left for the intent of benefiting that agency, that is in fact stealing,” said Pebsworth.