Tucumcari residents routinely drop off large amounts of clothing and other items in front of La Casa de La Hope food and clothing bank on South First Street. Bea Laredo, La Casa’s director, said certain greedy individuals have been coming by and stealing those donated clothes.
“Several people have told me they dropped clothes off here in front of the store, but the clothes were gone by the next day before we could bring them into the store,” said Laredo. “One volunteer witnessed someone filling their vehicle with donated items. She told them that they shouldn’t do that. The people left but they came back later and took the clothes anyway.”
Laredo said the stealing has been an ongoing problem.
Quay County District Attorney Ron Reeves said that items given to La Casa de La Hope becomes the property of La Casa de La Hope. “If somebody leaves something at La Casa de La Hope and their intention was to give it to La Casa de La Hope, then it belongs to La Casa de La Hope,” said Reeves. “If someone takes that property, they are taking something that does not belong to them, therefore they are committing larceny.”
Reeves said larceny of items from a charitable orgainization is hard to enforce. “First of all we would have to hunt down the person who dropped off the items to see if their intention was to donate the items to La Casa de La Hope,” he said, “and if the property taken is less than $100 in value then the crime would be a petty misdemeanor. I would like to see La Casa de La Hope install a drop box that could be secured with a padlock”
Laredo said the volunteers at La Casa de La Hope ensure that clothing is distributed equitably to people in need of clothing, and all donated clothing winds up being given to someone in need. Thursday, a tractor trailer filled with excess donated clothing departed La Casa de La Hope for a church in Bloomfield. “Whenever we have an overabundance of donated clothes, we send the excess to other charitable organizations so that people in other communities can get the clothes they need,” said Laredo. “If one person comes by after hours and steals several boxes of clothes from us, there might have been enough clothes in those boxes to give to a dozen or more needy individuals.”
Laredo and local law enforcement officials agree that taking donated clothes without permission is, in effect, stealing from the needy.