Suspects caught on camera stealing from non-profit - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Suspects caught on camera stealing from non-profit

HARRIS COUNTY, GA (WTVM) -

Law enforcement officials in Harris County are searching for suspects they believe have been stealing from a local charity.

By night and by day, images from surveillance cameras show people taking things like televisions the thrift store at FOCUS, or Fellowship of Christians United in Service, in Hamilton.

"You never want to see anybody steal anything from somebody, but it gets pretty low when you start taking from a charity because you are really stealing from the needy," said Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley.

Lynda Frerichs with FOCUS says all the profit from the thrift store goes back into Harris County to help those in need.

"We help people with emergency services," said Frerichs. "We help pay utility bills, medical bills, and rent sometimes."

 After hours, people can drop off donation items in a drop box or the bigger items can be placed on the front porch, but volunteers recently noticed something was wrong.

"Someone would tell us we dropped off three good bicycles, or a dresser, or a table, and we would get here in the morning and they wouldn't be here," said Frerichs.

That is when they installed surveillance cameras around the store.

Sheriff Jolley says they have already made two arrests, charging Brandon Moore and Betty Hixson with the crime.

Jolley says in all about six people caught on camera stealing from the non-profit organization in the last two weeks.

"They [the suspects] just thought that they could come up and get these items because they were donated, But, I tend to think that is just themselves trying to  give an explanation as to what they are trying to do is take items that don't belong to them," said Jolley.

What he and the volunteers of FOCUS are asking is that people realize that everything sold at the thrift store has a price.

"It is not garbage," Jolley said. "These are actually items that are donated to FOCUS, the charitable organization, for a difference in the community."

Sheriff Jolley says those arrested will face misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass.

FOCUS Representatives say they are still allowing people to leave things on their porch because they do not want to limit the number of donations they can receive from the community.

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