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Red Cross targeted by thieves

Local News 16 Jan, 2023 Follow News

Red Cross targeted by thieves

The Cayman Islands Red Cross Thrift Shop in George Town has suffered an increase in theft and burglaries recently, with the perpetrators entering the property and raiding donations dropped off by unsuspecting donors.

The thefts have escalated recently, with criminal damage occurring on the Red Cross trailer that is used for sales and collections and various locks have been destroyed. There were several instances over the festive season when gangs forced entry into the Red Cross storage container and stole donations made by the public.

All of the incidents were recorded on the Red Cross CCTV and reported to the RCIPS. In one incident, a man can be seen filming the general area on his cell phone, which raises fears that there might soon be an attempt to gain entry into the main Thrift Shop. The latest major incident resulted in two males being detained by RCIPS on January 7. However, this did not stop the burglars from coming back, and in the past week there have been numerous thefts from the donation box overnight.

The Red Cross volunteers have to regularly clean up the aftermath of these raids, which includes donations being thrown on the parking lot floor, as well as human excrement and urine, which poses a significant health risk to the volunteers.

“It is a shame that we have to put our volunteers’ safety at risk in the wake of these incidents. This reduces the amount of effort our volunteers can put into making sure the Thrift Shop is kept clean and tidy for the benefit of the whole community,” said Jondo Obi, the Cayman Islands Red Cross Director. “It’s important to understand that many of the donations made to the shop are given free of cost to vulnerable persons in need of assistance. Stealing these donations is impairing our ability to provide items to those who need them the most.”

The Red Cross Thrift Shop has become an important help for vulnerable people. The Red Cross works closely with several government agencies and NGOs, including the Needs Assessment Unit, Immigration Detention Centre, Cayman Border Control, Family Resource Centre, CI Crisis Centre and CI Baby Basics who refer their vulnerable beneficiaries to the shop. People who are referred to the Thrift Shop are given access to shop goods free of cost to them. Last year, 215 vulnerable people were assisted with items from the shop free of charge.

In response to the increased trespassing the Cayman Islands Red Cross intends to install an enhanced security fencing and will launch a fundraising appeal to the public.

“We are determined to ensure that our volunteers, our beneficiaries, and the wider public feel safe and secure in the Thrift shop premises,” said Obi, “We appreciate the public’s support in helping us to achieve this.”

The Red Cross is requesting the public to not leave donation bags outside the shop outside of drop off hours (as published on the Cayman Islands Red Cross website) as those donations will be stolen and vandalised overnight. It is also possible to schedule a pickup of large donations by contacting the Shop at (345) 949SHOP or Email: shop@redcross.org.ky

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