Stealing from a charity shop........

Sarah - posted on 04/05/2011 ( 16 moms have responded )

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So I saw this debate going on someones FB page, so thought I'd throw it open to you guys!

Basically someone was saying "What type of person would steal from a charity shop?!" and someone else made the point that perhaps a homeless person would steal a coat or something to keep them warm for the night etc.

They also pointed out that some of the executives from certain charities out there are rather well paid and perhaps they should think twice about that.

So do you think stealing from a charity shop is ALWAYS wrong, or if a homeless person did it would you understand? Also, should charity execs get paid as much as they do?!

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The thrift store owned and run by my dad's church has a free day once a month. Everyone that comes in gets up to $20 worth of mercandise for free - no questions asked. They also get peple who come in and ask if they give out free clothes to homeless people and the answer is always yes. Therefore, there's really no need to steal, BUT they have had people steal. It's a bit heartbreaking to have it happen when they go to the measures they do to give so much away (and there are big flyers up on the walls saying when the next free day is and stuff like that), but it's also kinda expected. No one who works there gets paid anything (even the person in charge of the whole operation - she does it out of the goodness of her heart), and all the profits go towards local charities (none of it goes to the church - although some of it goes to organizations the church runs, like helping homeless people find jobs... I hope that made sense). PLUS, the clothing at the thrift store is super cheap anyway - shirts are only $1 at the most expensive and jackets are $5-$10 for the really nice ones. So, like I said, not much point in stealing from there, but it does happen.

Anyway, I think in the example of a homeless man stealing a jacket in the middle of winter to stay warm, he wasn't doing anything wrong THAT ONE TIME. If he continues to make choices that make him feel he has to steal, then he is in the wrong, but if he has to stay warm for that one night and then takes steps to help himself then I wouldn't condem him for that one theft.

p.s. sorry if this post seems a bit disjointed... I'm realy tired today for some reason and I ran out of coffee after only 1 cup this morning :(

Dana - posted on 04/05/2011

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Well, I've got to say, I highly doubt a homeless man is going to get a job at a bakery unless that job comes with an apartment, shower, new clothes and a phone.



I'm not sure what all the answers are as far as people who run charities getting paid too much. I'm sure there are cases where it's true and cases where it's not true.



I do know that I get kind of irked when I want to give my clothes away for FREE and then someone ends up paying $5 for my shirt, $20 for my jacket, etc... I mean hell, you can get things at that price at Walmart and it's brand new!

Barb - posted on 04/05/2011

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Meh, the charity shop is to help the community. The people who pay are helping the community by helping the charity shop employ people, pay for the building, expenses and overhead.

Executives should not be making a windfall off the backs of the poor, and if the big money is their motivation, they are in the wrong job.

I think executives making big money off of donations and the poor is more criminal than a homeless person stealing for warmth and sustainability

Sarah - posted on 04/05/2011

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I wonder what would happen if a homeless person walked into a charity shop that was raising money for homeless people, and asked for a coat?!
Would they be given one I wonder?

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Mrs. - posted on 04/05/2011

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The bakery was a metaphor.

The truth is when they steal from a charity shop. They are stealing from an organization that would give them a job and help them get the food they need. They are stealing from people who are just like them, except they decided to ask for help and not steal.

As for Sally Ann just throwing stuff away...I don't know the details for them. I highly doubt that is the case. I know for Goodwill, the stuff that won't sell in North America, you know, the junk that is not "good enough", it gets shipped off to places like Africa that are far more accepting about "good enough". Most charity shops do something similar.

Oh, as far as you not being comfortable that they sell your shirt for 5-20 bucks and that irking you and you'd rather people support Walmart for that 5-20 bucks. I'm thinking it might be a good idea to research where the 5-20 you give to Walmart is going and how that affects the community.

The point of selling old clothes at those relatively low prices, besides it being better for the earth by recycling those old things, is that your 5-20 dollars goes to the programs these charity shops run. Your old shirt is not only giving 5-20 dollars to the shop, but it is helping to re-train some person who lost their legs in a horrible accident. Compared to Walmart...I know where I'd shop.

Jenni - posted on 04/05/2011

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Good point Dana. You know my husband told me they actually *fired* a guy he worked with because he lost his appartment and had no address. Fired for being homeless, can you imagine?

Jenni - posted on 04/05/2011

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Well Rebecca, In some ways I can agree with you. I guess the hurricane Katrina disaster was just playing over in my head when I wrote my post.



I don't agree that the homeless man can just go get a job at the local bakery. I'm sure some can... but there is usually a reason why they are homeless in the first place. A lot of homeless people are in that perdicament because they have slipt through the cracks. A lot have mental disabilities and illnesses and cannot function in a society like you or I. It is normally beyond their control that they are homeless.... I don't think they are in that perdicament because they're lazy and refuse to work. I don't think most people *choose* to be homeless.



But I was already thinking they do have clothes donations and food donations, soup kitchens but I'm not sure if it's always enough. I'm also pretty sure most of the things at the salvation armies get tossed anyways. They receive so many donations in my area from people cleaning out their closets that most of it winds up in the dump. But yeah, I can agree that he should be asking for help not stealing for it. Like I said, my head was else where :)



I don't know. If I had nothing and was freezing to death on the street and I had for some reason no other option than to steal a coat to live through the night or the next week. I hope people would be able to sympathise.

Mrs. - posted on 04/05/2011

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I don't see how the "stealing bread for the starving family" thing applies here. If the same man can go into the bakery and be offered a job, and food instead of the bread in the same amount of time he can steal the bread...how is that right? Let's say the bakery is full of ex-homeless people who went in, worked and made money to feed their starving families. Then some random homeless man goes in and steals bread from the employees - perhaps they will loose their jobs now?

By the logic of, who cares, that money goes to poverty stricken people..might as well let them take it, I guess that applies in other charity situations too?

For instance, The Salvation Army, they have a well known holiday drive as well as charity shops. Santa stands in front of a donation bucket and rings a bell. Well, by the logic of the homeless person taking a jacket for a shop, wouldn't it be okay for any homeless person to go up and steal the money from that bucket? Who cares right? It's going to people in poverty right? That's not a crime, right?

Or let's say a well intentioned person, who has researched Goodwill and likes its mission. Maybe this person's brother has a disability and got help there, who knows? Let's say they have a bag ready to go in their house to donate clothing. If a homeless person breaks into their home before they go to the donation centre, that's okay, right? They needed some pants and a jacket...that erases the crime, right?

Jenni - posted on 04/05/2011

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Ahhh the "is it wrong for a man to steal bread for his starving family" (Is that how it goes?)

I don't agree that all stealing is the same. I think if you're stealing for survival it is an exception. Everyone is entitled to have their basic needs met. Reminds me of New Orleans when they were showing people stealing TVs and crap and saying people were looting and then also showed people stealing food and survival necessities under the same category. Well no shit eh? it's not like there was some grande attempt to provide for the victims. But come on... bread and canned foods? I'm pretty sure we'd all do the same thing if we were in that position. Or would you rather watch your children and babies starve to death?

But what can I say, I have a modern day Robin Hood attitude.



Would I think it was stealing if a homeless man stole a coat from a thrift shop... NO. They are there to help people exactly in his position. We complain about the homeless pan-handling but then expect them to have the money to pay for basic needs... the stuff is donated anyways.... it's suppose to be a non-profit organization. Any profit made should be towards paying employees/ers modest wages and to run the shops and the rest to help the underpriveledged.

Mrs. - posted on 04/05/2011

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Put it this way, Easter Seals is an organization that sometimes gets its proceeds from charity shops. They raise that money via the shops for handicapped kids. If you saw a homeless man steal money from a kid in a wheelchair on the street, would you be okay with that? Because that's what is happening in that situation.

Sarah - posted on 04/05/2011

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Those are some good points Rebecca!
I'm not really sure how I feel about the whole idea to be honest, thought it would make for a good debate though! ;)

Mrs. - posted on 04/05/2011

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Well, considering my father hold a high level position at a regional Goodwill, I'll put my two cents in.

In the case of Goodwill and many other "charity shops", the funds raised from selling things in the store go towards a specific mission. In Goodwill's case it is to train handicapped people and giving people a second chance (training immigrants and sometimes, yes, the homeless or destitute.). These people work at Goodwill, are given training in specific areas like refurbishing items/sales management, they are put in programs with a facilitator and most of them go on to a new level in their professional lives. Goodwill is not choosy, all these people have to do to get help is ask for it and join the programs. They work hard in the programs and devote their lives to training, making their lives better.

Now, we all know that there are homeless people who would not be interested in working or retraining - they'd rather steal from those who are doing that. I know for a fact that whenever my father is approached for money on the street, he always says no but I can give you a job and hook you up with some help (then gives them his card/info to get to the nearest program). The majority of the people say offensive things to him or laugh at him. A couple times, he's actually put a few of them up at Goodwill and personally hooked them up with help - very rarely do they stay or continue.

So, if a homeless person steals from Goodwill, they are taking money from other people who were just as bad off. I think that's wrong. I think that's shitty. All they have to do is walk in the store office, ask for help and get a job instead of a jacket. So, yeah, that rot, IMO.

Oh, and my father isn't making a "windfall" off the backs of the poor in any way shape or form. I've heard that crap my whole life and I gotta add something. People who work for not for profits on the executive level make a whole lot less than people who have a similar work load and responsibilities in the for profit sector. They often have the same level of education and have paid the same price for it. They live on less and make less than their contemporaries. It would be a stupid person who went into the non profit sector to make a windfall. Why take the dip in salary and choose a life where you are generally looked down upon by your for profit contemporaries if you didn't believe in your mission? I'm know there are some bad apples who might get into it and get corrupt - just like in the for profit sector. The idea though that people in executive spots, running huge multi-national non profit companies should just do that position without getting paid or making nothing - what does that say about what our society values? So, you don't want to pay the best people anything to help the people who really need it. You have to compensate them, so they too can support their families and have a living/competitive wage which although is not up there with their equals in the for profit sector but is still adequate pay for the positions they hold.

Seriously, my take on it. If you feel it's okay for someone to steal for Goodwill type shops - you may not have a good idea about how/what happens to the profits in those charity shops.

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You don't steal from anywhere.If i worked in a charity shop like many people i know do.Its non-paid work.If i saw a homeless person steal, i would put the cost of that coat or what ever it was in the till myself.After asking if theres anything i can do for him/her.If the came looking for my help, i would never turn anyone away.I would also tell anyone who is stealing because there poor to never feel the have to do that.Never be ashamed to ask for help.

Toni - posted on 04/05/2011

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Personally, for me, stealing is stealing no matter who or where but if it was indeed a homeless person and I saw or discovered they had stolen something, I would pay for it myself. Some of these so called charity shops charge an arm and a leg for used items and I think that in itself is stealing. But that is just my opinion.

And yes, I do think some execs are getting way too much money.

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