Limerick charity shop asks people to give donations to staff after spate of clothes bank thefts

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

At A TIME of the year when it is “out with the old and in with the new” one charity shop is urging people to hand donations directly to staff.

At A TIME of the year when it is “out with the old and in with the new” one charity shop is urging people to hand donations directly to staff.

This follows a court case in Kilmallock in December where Mallow Superintendent Pat McCarthy said: “It’s nearly a full-time job to watch clothes banks.”

He was speaking during a case where three Romanian nationals pleaded guilty to theft from a clothes bank in the Lidl car-park in Charleville.

Gardai on mobile patrol spotted a van pulled up near the clothes bank in the early hours of the morning.

They found 16 black refuse sacks full of clothes for the St Vincent de Paul in the back of the van. The value of the items was estimated at €200.

Judge Mary Larkin asked Supt McCarthy about this type of crime and he said clothes are “being taken all the time”.

At Kilmallock court in September two Lithuanian nationals pleaded guilty to theft from the same clothes bank in Charleville.

Inspector Tony O’Sullivan said gardai saw a white van in the Lidl car park in Charleville near the recycling clothes bank.

“One climbed inside the clothes bank and handed out a bag to the other,” said Insp O’Sullivan, who added that “sadly it is common practice”.

When contacted by the Limerick Leader, Catherine Meehan, of Lourdes Connect, said the safest thing to do to ensure your charitable donations don’t fall into the wrong hands is give them directly to staff in a charity shop.

There are two Lourdes Connect shops - Gerald Griffin Street in Limerick city and in Castleconnell.

Ms Meehan said the New Year is traditionally busier due to people giving away unwanted presents, or clothes that they no longer want after getting new ones.

“When people go to the trouble of packing them up you would hate to see the items not go to their desired charity shop.

“The best way to guarantee that is to give the bags into staff,” said Ms Meehan, who has heard many reports of clothes being stolen from clothes banks.

Security measures in clothes banks vary. In some cases it is understood that children are put into the banks to hand the bags out to adults.

Often the clothes banks can become full so people leave the bags next to it.

“We’ve heard of people going through the bags, taking what they want and throwing the rest of the clothes onto the street. It’s unbelievable,” said Ms Meehan.

She also warns against leaving bags outside charity shops when they are closed as people have then stolen the bags.

“It’s terrible and again they have thrown the unwanted items on to the street. The safest thing to do is to give them in,” said the Annacotty woman.

Lourdes Connect’s shops in the city and county raises money to send people who can’t afford it to Lourdes.

It was started in 2002 by Ann Stones.

After a long battle with cancer the Annacotty woman went to Lourdes to give thanks for her recovery.

While in Lourdes Ms Stones came up with the idea to give the same experience she had in France to those who may not be able to afford it.

Ms Stones got non-Hodgkin lymphomas in 1995.

“In 1997 and 1998 I had chemotherapy. In 2000 I had chemo again. Then I had a stem cell transplant in 2001.

“In 2002 I was going to Spain on holidays and I visited Lourdes on the way.

“I came back then with the idea it would be nice to help anyone who may be sick or disabled or who can’t afford to go to Lourdes,” said Ms Stones.

They sell clothes, bric-a-brac, paintings, CDs, DVDs, a wide variety of goods and all donations are very welcome, as they are to all charity shops in Limerick city and county.