Jackie Baer, Belvoir Thrift Shop administrator, right, with employee Regina Albaladejo, Jan. 18.

Belvoir Thrift Shop Thefts on the Rise

Belvoir Thrift Shop’s mission to support the Fort Belvoir Community has hit a roadblock. Despite the Shop’s ongoing mitigation efforts, thieves continue to steal from the donation porch.

For Families who are permanently changing stations, the Belvoir Thrift Shop is a great place to drop off unneeded items or slightly used clothing. Anyone who has access to Fort Belvoir is able to buy anything at the Thrift Shop, a great place to find that out-of-print cookbook or late 80s Members Only jacket.

And the process could not be easier. The Thrift Shop has a drop off area where people can leave unwanted slightly used items any time of the day. Thrift Shop volunteers sort through the items, assign monetary values, and put them on the shelves. It’s a win for everyone. The PCSing Family has a little less stuff to move, the Thrift Shop has more items for sale, and the bargain hunter can find a hidden treasure or two.

Even better, the Thrift Shop, which is a private, federally recognized 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, takes all the money earned through the sale of these donated items and gives it back to the Fort Belvoir community. In the past 10 years, the Shop has distributed over $733,000 to programs around the installation, including over $141,000 in scholarships to Belvoir-affiliated military children.

Unfortunately, somewhere between Families dropping off items and the Thrift Shop retrieving them, a few people have decided to rifle through the donations and steal what catches their eye, despite the sign above the drop-off area that says, “Thrift Shop Property, No Removal of Items.”

Staffers at the Belvoir Thrift Shop collect donations dropped off by families, Jan. 18 amid signs warning of the consequences of theft.

Jackie Baer, administrator for the Belvoir Community Committee and Thrift Shop, said it is disheartening to see individuals taking away donated items, considering that the proceeds from these sales support important programs like the Red Cross Comfort Cart in the Alexander T. Augusta Military Medical Center and the Exceptional Family Member Program Easter Egg Hunt organized by Defense Acquisition University.

“When I go home at night,” she said, “I know that a military Family has a better life because of what we did (at the Thrift Shop). But the community needs to know that when someone steals from our porch, they are taking food out of the mouths of military kids.”

Baer said more than 90% of donations arrive when the Thrift Shop is closed. Since the Shop is only open a few hours three or four days a week, it is not uncommon for items to sit out in the drop-off area for a day or two. Baer added that the goal of the 24-hour drop-off area is to ensure that anyone can drop off their items anytime outside normal operating hours of the Shop. Even if the items have been out there for a day, Baer added that it is not an invitation for theft.

“We have not had fine jewelry since October,” she said, “and we’ve always had fine jewelry. I realize that someone has been taking it. People can’t buy their sterling silver jewelry here at a fourth of the cost (of retail prices), and that is less scholarship money we are able to provide.”

Baer has been an employee at the Thrift Shop for 24 years and is amazed at the length some people will go to steal items, even with the knowledge that the drop-off area is constantly monitored by four cameras. Whenever someone is caught on camera stealing items from the drop-off area, Baer said that footage is submitted to the Fort Belvoir Police Department.

According to the Fort Belvoir Staff Judge Advocate, Lt. Col. Andres Vazquez, Jr., those individuals that are caught stealing from the Thrift Shop can be barred from the installation and face Federal prosecution with possible prison time and a hefty fine.

Boyd Hodges, Director of Fort Belvoir Department of Emergency Services, said that the Fort Belvoir Police Department is aware of the situation and has responded by sending more patrols to the Thrift Shop. He also said that anyone witnessing a theft from the Thrift Shop should immediately call the police and describe the scene. “Take down the license plate number of the vehicle,” he added,” and stand by to provide a witness statement to the responding officers.”

Baer added that Thrift Shop employees have become dispirited at the thefts and hopes that more community members will “See something – and say something,” if they notice anyone rummaging the porch while the Shop is closed.

Thanks to the generosity of Families who donate their unwanted items and the volunteers who work at the Thrift Shop, numerous Army Community Service programs on Fort Belvoir have received funding over the last several years, including:

·      Operation Sugarplum

·      Emergency Food Voucher

·      Family Advocacy Program

·      Exceptional Family Member Program

·      Employment Readiness Program

·      ACS Information Fair

·      ACS Volunteer Recognition Luncheon

·      Relocation Assistance Center

·      Financial Readiness

·      Resiliency Program

·      Survivor Outreach

·      Army Family Team Building

·      Mobilization and Deployment Readiness

·      Month of the Military Child

·      Belvoir Teen Support Group

·      Hearts Apart

·      ACS Career Academy

·      Army Family Team Building Childcare

Here are a few other programs outside of ACS that also receive funding from the Thrift Shop:

·      Retiree Services Retiree Appreciation Day

·      DAU Exceptional Family Member Easter Egg Hunt

·      Barden Education Center, CYSS Sports

·      SFAC Wounded Warrior Rehab Program

·      Fort Belvoir Elementary, Warrior Transition Battalion Rehab Department

·      CYSS Skies Unlimited

·      Fort Belvoir Fisher House

·      Van Noy Library

·      CYSS South Post CDC

The Belvoir Thrift Shop is located at 10002 Caples Road, Building 630, and is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Learn more at the Belvoir Thrift Shop website

Jason Shepherd, deputy, Fort Belvoir Public Affairs