The Oasis in East Moline is putting out a warning to people about stealing donation items in the middle of the night.
They said they will begin pressing charges against those caught.
The target, donation items left at their outdoor drop off location.
Local Four News has obtained pictures from their security camera; The Oasis said catching thieves in the act and the license plate numbers.
Those will now be going to the police.
It’s an issue that has been escalating in the last few weeks.
The Oasis told Local Four News people would drop off donation items at their main entrance during their off hours because donors can’t make it during the two days a week their open.
“We have folks that stop down during the day and put items inside during the week but things that get left overnight like that, unfortunately, people are coming and taking and not using it for the way it was supposed to be used,” said Faith Walk World Outreach Center Pastor Scott Culley.
While volunteers come daily to take those items inside, the Oasis said late at night, those with less than good intentions are also helping themselves to the contributions.
The Oasis client Kakozi Muziliwa said Friday while at the service, “Many people here taking clothes for free, people happy. Me too, I’m happy because it give people clothes for free, bed for free.”
Coming to the United States as a refugee from the African nation of Congo nine years ago, Kakozi Muziliwa and his family are among many coming to the Oasis in East Moline when the doors open each week.
Pastor Culley said, “We have approximately 300 people every weekend.”
But recently, this outreach has noticed people aren’t waiting for their operating hours to peruse the rakes of clothes and house items.
Pastor Scott Culley with Faith Walk World Outreach Center, which helps to run the Oasis, said this is the first time thieves have become have become such a problem in their eight years of operation.
Pastor Culley said, “When we come down early in the morning that people have gone through bags that have been left over the night, and tore the bags open and then thrown the clothes if they didn’t want it out into the parking lot and just left a mess.”
Pastor Culley said this has come as a surprise since all of the items they provide to families in need come at no cost.
Pastor Culley said, “Just wait till we’re open. We’re happy to help you.”
But since these incidents have become a common such a common occurrence, the Oasis is taking extra steps installing security cameras to watch the donation drop off area.
Pastor Culley said, “We’ve got license plate numbers, and we’ve even got pictures of some of the folks doing that so, we want to give them a warning, we hate to do something like this, but from now on, those folks will be turned over to the police.”
Pastor Culley said they just want to focus on their primary goal of providing help to those in need.
Pastor Culley said, “Lots of immigrant families that are new to the area and folks that are just struggling and having a hard time making ends meet. That the whole purpose of the Oasis.”
East Moline Police has also increased patrols around the Oasis.
Pastor Culley said it’s not just people taking items but recently the dumping of trash.
“We always have to pay to have some of the stuff hauled away outside that we can’t take, and unfortunately, we’ve had someone leave a whole big bag of raw meat outside this past week. Now 90-degree weather and raw meat, it stinks and is horrible,” said Pastor Culley.
The police told Pastor Culley people caught dumping will face a fine.
The Oasis is open on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
The service is volunteer lead and uses donations to support any of their costs.