CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Sweet Repeat Thrift Store in Lake Wylie has been selling donated items for thrift store prices for decades. The profits they make go directly to area charities who need the financial support.
But earlier this month the non-profit had dozens of items stolen from its donation sheds five times in just one week, prompting security changes they fear could affect business.
“I witnessed the last 30 seconds of people stealing out of our shed and it broke my heart," said the President of the Sweet Repeat Charitable Foundation, Cathy Mann.
In the past, Sweet Repeat hasn’t had a problem with theft even though they kept their donation sheds unlocked everyday at all hours. They relied on the goodness of people to not steal and kept them unlocked so people could donate when it best fit their schedule. They said that policy usually led to more donations.
That’s now changing after the sheds were targeted five times during one week and countless items were stolen.
The York County Sheriff’s Department arrested Fredrick Warren Loftis, 29, Morgan Elizabeth Knight, 32, Dayanna Shairee Andre, 19, Lorie Ann Campbell, 52, Richard Jeffery Campbell, 51, Willie Don Campbell, 49, Kaeley Ann Jenkins, 24 and Jerry Michael Humphries, 46 for their involvement.
Those break-ins are now prompting security changes, including locking the sheds for the first time in years.
“The only way we make money is on our donations, so the more we can get, the more we can make," said Mann.
The sheds will remain locked starting in the early afternoon when volunteers aren’t at the store and stay that way through the night. It’s a big change for some volunteers as they’ve never had to lock the sheds in the past.
“Some of the ladies here have been with this organization since the 90.’s For them, to now feel like we have to lock our things up, it’s sad," Mann said.
Sweet Repeat hopes residents in the area will adjust their schedule and donate during the day when volunteers are around so they can continue to raise money for charities. On Monday night, they donated $120,000 to charities in the area.
“Hopefully they’ll rearrange their schedule and come when its not dark outside," said Mann. "It’s kind of the way life is nowadays. You have to lock things up.”