Essex: Business Crime Team launch clothes watch
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Our Business Crime Team have joined forces with The Salvation Army to launch Essex Clothes Watch' - an initiative to reduce the theft of clothing bank donations across the county.
Second hand clothing has a significant value and since August 2020, The Salvation Army have reported more than 260 incidents of clothing banks being broken into, damaged or donations being stolen in Essex.
"Sadly, this isn't a victimless crime" said Deaana Hamirani, Salvation Army Loss Prevention and Maintenance Manager.
"The clothing which people kindly donate to us, helps to raise funds to support vulnerable people in our community.
"The money raised through selling the donated clothing goes towards supporting community projects such as anti-addiction programmes and finding accommodation for those who do not have a home as well as learning and training schemes.
"When these donations are stolen from our banks, it not only takes away our means of raising funds for these projects, but we also have to pay out to replace or repair the banks and locks, which are often damaged during the thefts."
Typically an individual or group will drive up to a clothing bank in a van or car, break it open either by destroying the lock or damaging the bank itself, and take the clothes which have been donated.
The 'Clothes Watch' initiative asks members of the public to keep an eye out and report any suspicious behaviour they see around clothing banks.
"We need the public's help to catch these criminals" said PC Spencer Keeble from the Essex Police Business Crime Team.
"The people who commit these crimes aren't doing so because they need to clothe their families. These are criminals looking to exploit others, take advantage of people and financially gain from other's generosity and kindness.
"People choose to make donations to charities such as The Salvation Army, because they want to help others and support their local community. We need to make sure that those who are meant to benefit from these donations do.
"Those who are legitimately collecting the contents of the clothing banks on behalf of the charity will have identification and driving charity branded vehicles."
If you see any activity around a clothing bank, which doesn’t feel right to you, report it to us using our online digital 101 service on our website.
If you see a person or people collecting items from the clothing bank and you do not believe they are legitimate collectors, please don't approach the person or people, but instead call 999.