Disability charity Enable Ireland has lost 72 tonnes of clothing worth about €40,000 so far this year because of theft from its clothes banks.
Enable Ireland has also spent €40,000 repairing the damaged containers. According to news reports,the thieves are using young children to climb inside the clothes containers to steal the clothes.
The children are put into the containers by adults to pass bags of clothes out to them. In most cases, the containers are wrenched open but some thieves are using very young children.
Enable Ireland’s retail operations manager, Ann Kelly, said the charity was doing everything possible to make the banks more secure and tamper-proof.
Enable Ireland recently hired investigators to monitor clothes banks in Dublin regularly targeted by thieves. In one incident two men were seen wrapping an eight-year-old in a duvet and lowering him into a recycling bank in Dublin. The child was pulled out of the container once he had passed the bags to the thieves. It is believed that the clothes are exported abroad.
Enable Ireland is now working to change the design of the banks to make them tamper-proof. Ms Kelly stressed that the charity relied on clothing donations to help fund its activities and urged people to continue donating.