St. Vincent de Paul thrift store welcoming assistance following robbery

| Susan Klemond | February 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

Thieves stole nearly $1,000 from the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s south Minneapolis thrift store early on Jan. 30 after making a large hole through one of the store’s outer brick walls.

The robbery, which will affect the poor living near the store’s 12th Avenue and Lake Street location as well those as in other parts of the archdiocese, is the first that the international charitable organization has suffered in Minnesota since it was established here in 1854, said Brian Woolsey, St. Vincent de Paul Archdiocesan Council president.

“Our whole premise is to feed the poor, so when that money is taken from us it directly impacts those people and that’s the sad part about it,” said Woolsey, who attends Pax Christi in Eden Prairie. “We’re small enough so that any income that’s depleted will have a ripple effect.”’

To access the store, at about 3:15 a.m., thieves bored a roughly 3-foot hole in the store’s south wall nearest Lake Street. An alarm system was triggered, but they had enough time to break into the store’s offices, take the safe and several cash drawers, and disable a surveillance camera. There is no evidence that they took any of the store’s merchandise, he said.

Woolsey would not comment on whether suspects had been identified, but noted that the thieves may have been caught on the cameras of surrounding businesses.

The Lake Street store, which has operated for about 10 years, sells donated items and uses the proceeds to provide the poor with food and other assistance, which volunteers give out personally in the community and through the “free stores” it offers periodically at parishes throughout the archdiocese, Woolsey said. The Society doesn’t give out cash but will meet needs in other ways.

Hundreds of volunteers staff the thrift store, visit and assist people in the community, and serve in other ways, he said, adding that he is concerned not only for clients but also that some volunteers will stop coming.

If people want to help the Society, Woolsey encouraged them first to pray, and then ­decide if they feel called to volunteer or donate.

“I really believe something positive will come out of this,” he said. “It’s a blow to us. So much is done [by the Society] in a very quiet way. Maybe that’s the positive thing that comes out of this, that people become more aware of what the Society is in addition to the fact that we indiscriminately give.”

More information on the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and its stores

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