Salvation Army Theft

November 22, 2012 by  

Salvation Army Theft, It couldn’t have come at a worse time. News that the Salvation Army has fallen prey to a $2-million theft in Toronto broke just as the agency kicked off its annual Christmas campaign. That’s truly unfortunate for the Sally Ann. But the real victims are the kids who should have received about 100,000 toys that have now gone missing and donors to the charity who provided that bounty.

They have every right to be upset. But the pain caused by this crime will only intensify if the public loses trust in the Salvation Army and quits giving. That mustn’t happen. The work this agency does is too important – and the people it helps too many – to just turn away.

Efforts are being made to recover as much as possible. “Every dollar that’s entrusted to us is sacred. We don’t take that lightly,” Salvation Army Maj. John Murray told reporters on Wednesday. “Fraud happens, unfortunately.”

There’s no denying it happens with disturbing frequency at the Sally Ann. As collection kettles blossomed at local malls this week so did headlines declaring that a vast amount of toys had disappeared from a Railside Rd. warehouse, with the executive in charge now fired and police launching an investigation.

Food donations to needy families went missing, too, from the same depot distributing about 7.5 million pounds of groceries to Salvation Army locations across Ontario.

Meanwhile, the Sally Ann’s Ottawa centre is reporting the loss of $250,000 and the firing of its executive director. That scandal is unrelated to shenanigans in Toronto. And just six years ago the Salvation Army reported falling victim to another “significant fraud” when a Toronto staffer made off with about $2.3 million.

As if all this weren’t bad enough, a fire at the same warehouse where the most recent thefts took place ruined a vast supply of food, toys and clothing in 2008. Pity this agency’s insurers.

Murray said security is being revamped and beefed up, and that’s heartening. Complacency in the wake of these crises would be fatal to any agency’s reputation. It’s also reassuring to know the Army will continue its good work this Christmas. Since the latest round of warehouse thefts was a hidden loss, taking place over two years, it won’t affect plans for distributing toys and food.

“The Salvation Army will help anyone who comes to us this Christmas season, and in Christmases to come,” said Murray. “The Salvation Army is about helping people in need. That’s who we are.”

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