Thieves steal donations meant to help homeless veterans

Thieves steal donations meant to help homeless veterans

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A camp set up to help homeless veterans in Tucson became the target of a robbery last week.

Lewis Arthur, founder of Veterans on Patrol, said numerous items were stolen from the donation tent set up at Bravo base, which is located behind Santa Rita Park, off East 20th Street and South Jacobus Avenue.

Arthur said they actually found many of the items for sale at the swap meet last weekend.

He said they confronted the thieves who had camped out at the Veteran's on Patrol campsite and had been evicted for drug use.

The men were not veterans, but the camp extended their services for some time to not only help veterans, but any homeless person who showed up asking for help.

Now, they're changing how they operate.

"As an end result of this we are suspending all housing of civilians. Veterans on Patrol will no longer house civilians at any of our bases until we go take care of every veteran here," Arthur said.

An ugly confrontation took place at the swap meet between Veterans on Patrol members and the suspects at the swap meet.

Arthur said the men told him they found the items at a Dumpster, but he found several personal items, such as a vintage sleeping bag and dress shirts he owned among the items for sale.

Deputies were called out to the swap meet, but said they could not arrest the individuals as the stolen items were not marked, nor were any serial numbers jotted down, so it would hard to prove who the items belonged to in court.

Arthur said deputies did ask the men at the swap meet to close down shop and leave.

"I was very furious. We're entrusted. We rely on the community for donations. We don't accept money. We don't get paid. We want to make sure every donation goes to the poor and no one is making a profit off it. That's pretty upsetting," Arthur said.

The stolen items included everything from food and clothing, to sleeping bags, coats, totes and electronics.

The group now needs more donations to replace the stolen items.

Arthur said so far, Veterans on Patrol has helped 177 homeless people get into homes or reunite with families.

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