A Beaufort-area children's social-service agency is deciding whether it can afford to install a security system for a Port Royal thrift store it operates after three break-ins there in two weeks.
Each time the CAPA Closet store was burglarized between Nov. 13 and 24, the glass front door was smashed, the store ransacked and anything of value stolen, according to Child Abuse Prevention Association executive director Susan Cato. The nonprofit agency runs the store in the Midtown Village Center on Parris Island Gateway.
"If I knew he was going to smash the door, I would have just left the door unlocked for him," Cato said. "The total damage has been about $800, and they've stolen about $200 in items and donations. It's ridiculous.
"We're checking into getting a security system, but we're not sure if we have enough money. We've got to do something, though. We can't just keep having someone break into the store."
The thrift store sells items to families and people in need, and 100 percent of its proceeds goes toward CAPA's mission of raising awareness of child abuse in Beaufort County, Cato said.
"Every dollar that is taken from that store means we have to find money to operate our shelters and do our programs from somewhere else," Cato said. "That's absolutely getting harder."
The crimes come as CAPA prepares to move the store from Midtown Village Center to the former Keith's Place on Ribaut Road. The purchase and renovation of the former restaurant and bar are expected to cost about $300,000, CAPA officials said. The association hopes the new, bigger store will open by the end of the year.
While CAPA works with Port Royal police to solve the crimes, Cato said the organization has asked donors not to leave items at the store when it's closed, to discourage more thefts.
"We almost never get those donations that are left after hours; they are almost always stolen ..." Cato said. "Now, instead of just stealing those items, people are coming into the store."
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.