TWO Townsville St Vincent de Paul Society charity bins have been set alight, one fire causing damage to the side of a society-owned building.
The society’s Queensland chief executive officer Peter Maher described the vandalism as “despicable” and said it was an ongoing problem in locations throughout the state.
“We also get all sorts of things dumped in the bins – lawn clippings, soiled nappies, old prawns,” he said.
“People decide they don’t want to stink out their own bins so they’ll drop it in our bins.”
Mr Maher said theft was another problem, leading many sites to install cameras to monitor the bins.
“We’ve even had cases where people have turned up in expensive cars such as Mercedes and gone through the bins for items of value,” he said.
“I understand they do this to find items to sell at markets.
“When people go through the bins they spread the donations everywhere, often damaging many of the items.
“The thing is if anyone genuinely needs something, we will give it to them.”
Mr Maher cautioned that even prosperous people could hit hard times and may have to rely on the support of charities such as the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Townsville diocesan president Brian Headford said he had been devastated when deliberately-lit fires destroyed two full bins of donations at city stores.
“A fire in one of the bins also destroyed the side of a society-owned building,” he said.
“The generous donations of clothing from locals, especially around Christmas, are vital as the profits of these items are used to help those in need.
“The targeting of our bins and buildings costs us, in replacement and repairs, money that would be better spent helping people in need in our community.”
Many of the donation bins have now been moved to high-visibility and more public sites around Townsville to deter vandalism, dumping and looting.
“In the long run, these changes should reduce the costs of replacement, repair and disposal of rubbish,” Mr Headford said.
“To the wider community, please keep donating your good quality items as it makes a difference to those facing tough times.”
In Brisbane, the Salvation Army has slashed the number of bins across the city by more than half in the past three years due to widespread pilfering of donated goods and rubbish dumping.
The charity has removed 55 bins, leaving just 40 city wide.
Mr Maher said at this stage there were no plans to reduce the numbers of Vinnies donation bins.
“The fact is more than 95 per cent of people are fine in this regard,” he said.
“Having said that, you only need one person to muck things up.”