Thefts show disrespect

Windarring's Deanne Watson (at centre) with supported employees Melissa Gale and Josh Dixon are unimpressed by recurrent thefts of donated goods from the front of their recycled goods store on Castlemaine's Barker Street. Photo: Eve Lamb

The repeated thieving of donated goods from the front of Windarring’s Castlemaine recycled goods store has staff and supported workers there feeling more than a bit fed up.

One of the store’s two Australian Disability Enterprise coordinators, Deanne Watson, says the incidence of people helping themselves to items that have been donated and left at the front of the Barker Street store after hours has become a significant problem over recent weeks.

If it becomes much worse it may even threaten the viability of the shop that sells donated secondhand goods, providing valuable supported employment opportunities for local people with disabilities, she says.

“Over the last few weeks we have had a lot of people putting donations out the front of the store for us to put in the store for sale,” Deanne says.

“Unfortunately some people have decided that this is the perfect opportunity to grab a freebie.”

While there are two large donation bins available at the store front for donated items to be deposited in, these have either been full or have not been used for some other reason by those donating items, leaving a significant quantity of goods piled at the front of the store that is monitored by CCTV.

“We have caught several people after hours going though these donations to help themselves,” Deanne says.

“The issue has been ongoing for weeks where donated items are getting left after hours when the shop’s closed, and people are going through them and stealing from them. They’re stealing from a disability centre.”

Not only have the recurrent thefts deprived Windarring of a vital source of income that enables it to provide supported employment to people with disabilities, they’ve also been creating a mess as well.

One recent example involved a man and a woman with a dog who were captured by CCTV footage in the act of rifling through bags of donated goods in the pre-dawn hours, leaving a mess of items they’d pulled out, and then rejected, strewn across the store front.

“They were going through the bags at 2.15am, filling bags (with goods they wanted) and just dumping stuff they didn’t want,” Deanne said.

It’s just one example among many, with the issue now prompting the supported employment provider to contact police.

“We have now notified police and we will also start reporting number plates as well,” Deanne says.

“We’ve also put up a sign.”

The sign urges people not to leave donations sitting at the front of the shop after hours.

“We’re just asking people to please donate while the shop is open during our open hours – Monday to Friday, 10am-2pm – or to call us on 5472 1599 to arrange a good time to donate,” she says.

The recycled store’s other Australian Enterprise coordinator, Fabrice Rocher, says the theft of donated goods from the store front disrespects the valuable role that Windarring plays in supporting the local community.

“It’s illegal and it’s not very respectful.”