TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Several nonprofits in Pima County have been hit by criminals in the past several weeks.
People may grow increasingly desperate, but any targeting of charities is a coincidence, according to the Tucson Police Department.
The community organization BICAS shared a picture on social media showing the damage to its new location on 7th Avenue north of downtown Tucson. Staff said whoever hit the place left the bicycles untouched, but ran off with thousands of dollars in cash and equipment, including the video cameras and anything they might have recorded.
Weeks before that, St. Vincent de Paul was burglarized multiple times, including an attempted burglary that was stopped by a homeless man's call to 911. That man was awarded with several donations for his act of kindness.
Monday, volunteers at Safe Shift, the Tucson Fire Foundation's estate sale store on East 29th Street near Swan, added to their three-suite-wide stash of furniture, housewares, historic pieces and other collectibles.
The location was burglarized three times before its grand opening earlier in December.
"It was heartbreaking for the volunteers who had put hundreds of hours into getting ready," said Foundation President Mike McKendrick.
He said whoever is responsible for the burglaries seems to have swiped a crowbar in the first theft, then returned to use it as a way to break in another time.
McKendrick said he tried to offer some help to the suspect or suspects, but there is no reasoning with people who are set on stealing.
"I wrote a sign for the door that said 'If you really need something, know that you're stealing from a charity, but come by when we're open and ask for Mike', he said. "They didn't do that. They just stole again."
The foundation planned to increase security around the facility eventually, but money was already budgeted for the grand opening and the firefighters' wellness campaign. McKendrick said several loss-prevention experts, including a specialist from Tucson Police Department, provided suggestions on how volunteers can better protect their stuff.
Sgt. Pete Dugan, a spokesman for TPD, provided the following tips for any home, business or nonprofit owner:
- More lights. The brighter and the higher on your property the better. Consider paying to keep a couple inside lights on, as well.
- Quality locks. They may be a few more bucks, but it's worth it to protect what's yours.
- Alarms are important, but expensive. Even a couple signs suggesting you have an alarm system could keep criminals away.
- Limit your keys. Keep track of who has access to your property and make sure they're keeping it to themselves.
- Know your neighbors. Not because you don't trust them, but they could be an extra set of eyes on your property
- Tell the police. If you've noticed problems in your neighborhood that don't require an official police report, request a focused patrol from you nearby station to check on your property.