Archived Story

Suspect ‘stealing’ from veterans

Published 10:52pm Thursday, April 3, 2014

A man in a black SUV has been driving around Suffolk “stealing” bags left outside homes for Hampton-based Vietnam Veterans of America Pick-Up Services to collect, according to reports.

A woman living in the Kilby Shores area, who did not wish to be named for fear of retaliation, said the man took a bag of children’s clothes from the front of her driveway about 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

“I saw this man picking up (bags from outside other homes), then he stopped at our house and picked up” the bag, she said.

She said it seemed “weird” that he was not in the usual Vietnam Veterans Pick-Up Services truck.

“I flagged him down … and I said, ‘Are you supposed to be taking this?’ And he said, ‘The truck is broken; I’m just a volunteer (and) there are cars all over picking up stuff.’”

But the man couldn’t produce a Vietnam Veterans receipt for the bag he took.

Without specific information like addresses or victim names, Suffolk Police Department is unable to determine how many such reports it has taken, according to city of Suffolk spokeswoman Diana Klink.

“The issue also lies with where the bags were placed,” Klink wrote in an email, explaining that curbside bags are fair game, and police will not take a report, although when things are wrongly taken from private property, such as a porch, it is considered a theft.

It was reported, Klink continued, that the male in Kilby Shores was dark-haired, olive-complexioned, 5 feet 6 inches tall, of average weight, and drove a “clean” black SUV.

“It was alleged that a neighbor had bags taken off the porch but no additional report was filed,” Klink added.

The Kilby Shores woman, who wished not to be named, said she had heard of other cases around Bennett’s Pasture Road in North Suffolk, but Kendall Courtney, manager at Vietnam Veterans of America Pick-Up Services, said he was aware of only two reported cases in the downtown area, both in the past two weeks and both involving a black SUV.

“It’s something that happens periodically,” Courtney said, adding that his group sells the collected items to thrift stores and uses the proceeds to provide services to veterans.

He said the man described in reports and other offenders could be taking items for their own use or selling to thrift stores, flea markets, or cashing in at yard sales.

“In both cases, we haven’t been able to learn what they put out,” Courtney said. “I don’t know, in actuality, what was taken; I don’t know if they had a TV sitting out there and that looked enticing.”

He advised donors to conceal items “that might be seen as valuable at a distance” in boxes or bags.

He also advised placing items on the porch instead of beside the curb. “The drivers leave the receipt on the door, so it’s not inconveniencing us,” he said.

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