Charities could be out thousands of dollars after the theft of seven clothing donation bins in Gatineau this week.
Big Brothers Big Sisters said at least five of its 30 large bins have disappeared from outside a Metro grocery store on Boulevard Wilfrid-Lavigne, a convenience store on Belmont Street and the former Cabaret Le Pink on Chemin d'Aylmer.
Big Brothers Big Sisters said the large metal containers cost $3,000 each, not counting the value of the goods donated — about $100,000 a year, according to the non-profit organization.
"It's enormously upsetting," said Yvonne Dubé, general director of the organization's Outaouais chapter, in a French language interview with Radio-Canada.
Later on Thursday, St-Vincent-de-Paul confirmed two of their bins were stolen as well.
Police received security footage
Gatineau police are now investigating after this week's thefts resulted in seven stolen bins.
They've received security camera footage and are looking for witnesses.
One section of footage from a gas station shows a large Budget rental truck pulling into a parking lot, and several men jumping out to load a metal donation bin in the back before driving off.
"It's really unusual, these type of thefts," said J-P Le May with Gatineau police.
He added the bins are awkward and heavy — they're eight feet tall and can weigh several hundred pounds.
"One thing's for sure, you have to be organized to transport these heavy pieces of metal."
Clothing, toys, other items
"The donations help our organization finance different programs and to help the families we serve," said Dubé.
Big Brothers Big Sisters offers a variety of mentoring programs matching volunteers with children and at-risk youth, or "littles."
The stolen donations would have contained clothing, toys for an annual Christmas giveaway, kitchen accessories, decorations and more, Dubé said.
The organization has turned to Facebook for help locating the bins.