Mollie Dalpae, director of the Spokane Valley Community Center has known something was wrong for weeks. When staffers arrived at work on Monday mornings, they no longer found donations piled up waiting for them.
“We knew something was up,” she said. “This is a very generous community. We could get several hundred pounds of clothing and household items.”
Dalpae and her employees would drive by the center, at 10814 E. Broadway Ave., at various times during the weekend, hoping to spot donations before they could be swiped. SCOPE volunteers also did drive-bys, all to no avail. Until Sunday.
Police and Dalpae got lucky when a citizen spotted a group of women apparently making off with several bags of donated items and flagged down a police officer. The officer caught up to a black truck identified by the citizen just before 10 p.m. Sunday, said police spokesman Cpl. Dave Reagan.
The officer could see several black plastic bags in the bed of the truck. The bags contained books, clothing, canned food, stuffed animals and telephone equipment, Reagan said.
Police cited the three women with misdemeanor theft. They were identified as Evelyn J. Smith, 38, of 16909 E. Sprague Ave., Denyce V. Hall, 50, and Tamera M. Hall, 47, both of 21 S. Manifold Road. Tamera Hall also was cited for having defective equipment, driving without proof of insurance and failure to have her driver’s license on her person.
Dalpae has long since posted a sign on her door advising people not to leave donations outside the building. Instead they are asking people to drop off their donations when the center is open. “If they can’t make it during the week, we’d be happy to make arrangements to meet them at the center” during the weekend, she said. Donors just need to call ahead of time and state when they will arrive to drop items off.
Some supplies are low due to the repeated thefts, Dalpae said, especially children’s clothing. “When people stoop to stealing from people who need it most, it’s hard to be sympathetic.”
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