Vinnies robbery a ‘kick in the teeth’ for charity

kick in the teeth

Invercargill’s Vinnies shop has been given a big kick in the teeth from thieves stealing from people in need.

The metal bar the thieves used to break into the Catholic charity’s North Rd store caused thousands of dollars of damage. Then they stole money, food, the roller door remote – and the Vinnies van.

The food intended for Southland’s needy families included a freezer containing a year’s worth of meat. That was all stuffed into the stolen van.

The meat – all mince – had been donated by a local farming family. It was meant to be distributed among the community.

“That’s the thing, they didn’t steal it off us, they stole it off families who would have benefited from it,” says St Vincent de Paul treasurer Tony Rae.

“We’re all volunteers [at Vinnies], so that’s a kick in the teeth for us who put in all the time into helping people.”

The van, which was used for collecting and delivering donated goods around the community, was eventually found at the estuary.

Invercargill City Council said when they found it, it had been hotwired, dumped and damaged.

Trying to carry on without the van involves “lot of mucking around”, says Rae.

He says insurance would cover some of the cost but not the difference needed to buy a new van.

While searching for a new vehicle, Vinnies has hired a van to help with collections and deliveries.

Despite the thefts, Rae is positive about most people.

“It’s got to be said also that the percentage of people like [the thieves] is offset by the very generous people like all our volunteers, people who donate food, clothing, furniture, money,” he says.

“Good people, they far outweigh the negative. It’s a kick in the teeth, but we’ll carry on.”

St Vincent de Paul has been involved in the Invercargill community for about 90 years, working with Christian values to deliver practical and effective help to those in need.


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