Homeless coalition broken into 3 times in a month

By Jim Piggott, General assignment reporter, jpiggott@wjxt.com
Published On: Jul 23 2014 02:32:55 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 23 2014 02:49:31 PM EDT
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -

Police in St. Augustine are trying to figure out who is stealing from the homeless.

The Homeless Coalition of St. Johns County has been broken into three times in the last month. The thieves are not stealing expensive items, but important items to help a group of homeless families.

"They broke through the window. They lifted the window up," said Debi Redding, of the coalition. "Somebody shimmied through the small little window."

When the crooks got into the storage shed, they took paper towels, paper plates, cleaning products and other similar items. The three break-ins have added up to more than $1,000 worth of products stolen.

"The last one, they had taken everything out," Redding said. "They wiped it clean. They knew what was in there. We kept asking for donations and I kept filling it up with donations, and they would wipe it out again."

The products were used at the special site that the coalition uses for housing homeless families.

"It's paper products for the homeless families," Redding said. "We have 18 homeless families living in our transitional housing, and food stamps don't pay for paper products."

Amanda Washington is one of those in the program. She lives with her husband and son in one of the houses supplied by the coalition. She can't believe somebody would do this.

"It's devastating, honestly, to us," Washington said. "People donate for us. And when a family doesn't have, and it's hard for us to say, 'Hey, can I have?' 'No, we got broken into,' it's insane."

So the coalition is once again asking for help from the community.

"We would love to replenish all the supplies and more," Redding said. "We would also love to get a security system for the back."

Donations can be dropped off at the Homeless Coalition of St. Johns County, 523 W. King St., St. Augustine, 32084.

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