Theft alert: When something left at curbside is not a freebie

Over the weekend, this reader report sparked a discussion about curbside freebies. Today, we got e-mail from JG, wanting to share an alert about a curbside-donation thief:

Please tell people not to put out their pickup for Northwest Center until 7:30 am or a little before. I had mine out the night before and was woke up with headlights coming in my bedroom and saw a white car, late 90’s or early 2000’s model with a sunroof, stealing my donation. The passenger that took my donation was a girl with brown hair to her shoulders or a little longer. I should have gotten up right away but I hesitated for a couple minutes, then got in my car to see if I could find the car and get the license plate number. I know probably a stupid thing to do but I didn’t find them. This was around 1:30 last night.

We asked JG a couple followup questions — what was in her donation? (clothes & shoes) was it clearly marked as a donation so this wasn’t a case of someone mistaking it for a freebie? (yes, it had the Northwest Center tag on it). So … consider yourself alerted.

23 Replies to "Theft alert: When something left at curbside is <em>not</em> a freebie"

  • Rhonda Porter November 26, 2007 (12:25 pm)

    Did this person say what neighborhood they’re in? Was this a little girl or a young lady that “lifted” the donations?

  • TTop November 26, 2007 (12:33 pm)

    Hmm… the donation is to help people in need, I’m guessing if she was taking the donation left outside, then she probably needed it. Just saying.

  • Praying Man-tis-i November 26, 2007 (12:57 pm)

    TTop – Stealing isn’t right, and we might never know why this person took this action, but I agree that she was in need. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt for now.

  • Dis November 26, 2007 (1:44 pm)

    What is the Northwest Center “tag”? If there are tags for these donations, it would save me a lot of time writing on the outside of the bags with felt tip markers! I agree that if someone took it, they probably needed it, and it was a donation anyway. I would rather my stuff went to someone who needed it than ending up as bulk fabric to unknown destination. You know that warehouse just to the right of the WS bridge offramp to 1st ave S where they have bales of bulk fabric? I always wonder if my donations end up there.

  • miws November 26, 2007 (1:53 pm)

    I agree, Mantis, that stealing isn’t right, but as cynical as I’m getting in my “old age”, I’m not very willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

    What are truly needy people doing, driving around at 1:30 AM, seeking items to be “donated” to them? If she/they could prove it was something they desparately needed, and that this would be the only time they would commit such a act, then maybe I’d give them a break.

    I just have a hunch that this may not be the first, nor the last time these people have done this, and will go so far as to propose that they may be actually selling their bounties to support a drug habit.

    Geeze, I hate feeling this way! :(


  • I Heart Jiggers November 26, 2007 (1:53 pm)

    For The Love…. c’mon people. There are a number of legitimate ways to get help, discount clothes, food, etc. Someone truly in need can access those resources. Someone burning gas driving neighborhoods after midnight is looking for freebies and thieving them.

    NWC sends donation notices in the mail. They are usually bright green and can be taped to donations.

  • Kayleigh November 26, 2007 (2:14 pm)

    Hafta echo the skeptics here. People sometimes steal donated items and sell them at yard sales.

  • flowerpetal November 26, 2007 (3:07 pm)

    I’m not jumping into the sides on who needs and who doesn’t. I can answer one of Dis’s questions though. Some things which are donated to NW Center, Services for the Blind, etc. do end up at the rag recycling place next to the bridge. And that aint bad. Value Village, Goodwill etc go through donations and decide what will sell and what is not worth putting on the floor. Some of the “rags” get recycled into products for resale, some get shipped off to third world countries. That sometimes explains why you might see a photo in National Geographic from a remote spot in a third world country and someone is wearing an “I want to be a Hiyu Princess” t-shirt!

  • Jan November 26, 2007 (3:39 pm)

    my 2 cents….the “lady” who lifted the stuff drives a better car than I do….need? I totally doubt it…

  • Aidan Hadley November 26, 2007 (4:43 pm)

    Put something else out and set up a video camera. You’ll see them again. You’d be surprised how many thieves go back to the same hunting grounds after they’ve plundered one location with impunity.

  • eric November 26, 2007 (7:44 pm)

    Many people on public assistance of one sort of another drive nicer cars that a lot of us. You know, having a good working car is a right in this country. I mean, really, you have to have a car to find a job and not the other way around, right? right?

  • kittycatcarlyle November 26, 2007 (8:04 pm)

    Wow. Some of you are pretty lucky to not even have the thought that this woman was on her way home from her second-shift job ever cross your minds. I’ve been poor enough recently enough to remember that A LOT of decent people are out driving at that hour because, even when the restaurant where we served you closes at 11, it usually takes a couple hours to shut down & tab out for the night.

    I’m not even going to chime in on whether charity-is-charity, but MY GAWD, a person takes a bag of clothes & all of a sudden out neighborhood’s full of drug addicts who deserve our derision & constant surveillance?

  • Aidan Hadley November 26, 2007 (8:31 pm)

    kittycatcarlyle: No matter what excuse you make at the end of the day someone helped themselves to something that didn’t belong to them. If you lose your wallet in Japan, 9 times out of 10 you’ll get it back with all of the cash. There is also very little graffiti there. This is because of a culture that strongly respects other people’s property. In the USA it makes the papers when someone returns something because so many of us grab anything free like hungry, greedy vultures. I’m all for empathizing for people who are less fortunate than I am. But it is a slippery slope when you grant open license for anyone to just grab whatever they want because they need it.

  • Jan November 26, 2007 (10:24 pm)

    eric…I suppose you could be right…but my daughter, who is 27, has a job that pays 50K a year…has never had a car…it made no difference. And…I cannot think that this person was so desperate as to steal because she is down and out. Ther is NO excuse for stealing something from another person’s property.
    KCC….did anyone say she’s a drug addict…well, one did…but..I have to agree with Aidan on this one.

  • Dis November 27, 2007 (1:15 am)

    Kittycatcarlyle, what she said. It’s a pretty sad commentary on society when people feel proprietary about their garbage and castoffs, fer chrissake!! Read some Paul Krugman and get your knickers in a knot about the redistribution of wealth in this country instead; at least that’s something worth the swivet.

  • miws November 27, 2007 (2:36 am)

    Okay, maybe I went too far in suspecting these items would be sold to support a drug habit. If so, I apologize.

    Again, I have found myself, much to my own dismay, becoming more cynical as time goes on. We see and hear all the time, on the news, of thefts of things such as cars and copper wiring being stolen, then sold to support a drug habit.

    I know that a bag or box of shoes and clothes is not in the same league as cars or copper, but I do stand by my opinion that theft, no matter how little of value the item is, and how great the need of the “thief” is wrong.

    And I’ve lived most of my life from paycheck to paycheck, so I know how tough it can be.


  • Kayleigh November 27, 2007 (5:26 am)

    I work all freaking day to help the homeless; plenty of things cross my mind daily about people who have less than I do and who work more hours than I do.

    Stealing is stealing and it’s wrong when Haliburton does it from the taxpayers and it’s wrong when someone steals a bag of clothes from someone else’s porch.

  • Jan November 27, 2007 (8:12 am)

    Kayleigh…right on !

  • Ron Burgundy November 27, 2007 (8:19 am)

    Maybe this person stole the goods to sell so she could save up enough money to move to tax sheltered Dubai and work for Haliburton. :)

  • Karen November 27, 2007 (8:46 am)

    These things are left out for the charity – it is stealing from them! If you put a $20 bill out for charity and someone took it, we’d pretty much all agree – that is stealing.

  • Joni November 27, 2007 (11:25 am)

    I recently quit my job working at an alternative high school in White Center. I left because of the crime in my building. The same kids that shot the man in Top Hat while trying to rob his home recently were the same kids (14 yr olds) that robbed my office. To get to the point, while working in that area and with those families, I learned much. There’s a whole culture of people around us that benefit from our belongings. Whether they get it in the wee hours of the night from our curbsides/property or in broad daylight at gunpoint, they are always on the prowl. One certainly overshadows the other in seeming dangerous but both are performed by people that survive on the belongings that the rest of us work so hard at achieving. They either are too lazy to work for it themselves, make too much money selling drugs or are in such extreme poverty equal to third world countries that they become desperate. Sad. I would suggest NOT following a car like this one for the fact that the passenger may be travelling with gun!

  • Erik November 27, 2007 (1:51 pm)

    Being a former resident of the Boulevard Park neighborhood (east of white center) I understand where Joni is coming from. If it wasn’t nailed down then it was gone. It wasn’t “will my car be broken into and/or stolen?”, but rather “when?” Even though I know taking a bag of donations is stealing I think we should be grateful that our hoods are relatively safer than what I know they could be.

  • Aidan Hadley November 27, 2007 (3:32 pm)

    Joni: So sad. There are people in this world who believe in working for what they have. There are others who believe in just taking it, even going to far as to use violence. I suppose everyone can decide for themselves which of those two philosophies is the right one.

    Karen: Point well-made. Nicely done.

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