TYLER - The Tyler Fire Department is investigating after two women allegedly set a Goodwill donation box on fire after stealing from it. The incident happened on May 27 over Memorial Day weekend.
A spokesperson for Goodwill tells CBS19 that setting a donation box on fire is something new, but stealing happens all the time.
"We do have our donation boxes stolen from almost on a nightly basis," said Bethany Carico, Goodwill Director of Retail. "One week we may have 8 or 10 people charged for theft."
Looking at surveillance video, two women in a truck take donations from the box. About ten minutes later, the box catches on fire.
It started out as a small fire, and gradually, flames engulfed the box.
"Looks like one of them may have dropped a cigarette down into the box," Carico said.
All that's left is a black mark on the ground and charred marks on the gate.
Carico said she can't estimate the value of the stolen goods, because there's no way to know what exactly was donated.
On average, there's $200 to $500 worth of donations dropped off each night.
"Some people actually have big side businesses off of the donations that they steal from our donation bins," she said.
Out of the 15 locations in East Texas, Carico said the company loses an average of $500 every day to theft.
The frequency surprised her at first, but after working with Goodwill for more than 12 years, she said she's accepted it.
"But I've worked here for so long that I know it's just part of our everyday work life," Carico said.
Goodwill has Loss Prevention employees working overnight.
"They will usually call on the intercom and ask them to leave, or we'll call the police if we have a license plate number," she said.
A police report was not filed after the incident because Carico could not read the license plate number.
This was the only donation box in Tyler. Carico said a new box will be at the South Tyler location in about a month. If you want to donate, drop off any items during regular business hours.
Those with additional information are urged to contact the Tyler Fire Department at 903-535-0005.
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