DUMPED: This is some of the rubbish dumped at Ballina's St Vincent de Paul Society's charity bins in Winton Ln on Thursday night.
DUMPED: This is some of the rubbish dumped at Ballina's St Vincent de Paul Society's charity bins in Winton Ln on Thursday night. Contributed

Scavengers run amok at Vinnies

PROPERTY owners near the St Vincent de Paul Society's Ballina store have had enough of the noise and rubbish, and want the charity's donation bins removed.

The issue will be discussed by Ballina Shire Council for a second time at the October 25 meeting.

Yvonne Corrigan and her husband Jeff Shearman have been lobbying to have the bins removed for about four years.

They have owned a property near the Winton Ln donation bins for 10 years, and say the dumping of unsaleable rubbish and the scavenging has got worse over the years, and now it's almost daily.

While Vinnies a few months ago made threats about taking legal action against scavengers, utilising images from security cameras, Ms Corrigan said that hasn't made a difference.

They say scavengers, who turn up at all hours of the night and also through the day when the Martin St Vinnies store is closed, will go through the items left beside the bins, then leave what they don't want spread around the bottom of the bins, and even toss things over their fence.

"This can't continue,” Ms Corrigan said.

"They're (Vinnies) providing an opportunity for people to steal.”

Besides the rubbish, she said the scavengers make plenty of noise as they rummage through the donations.

She said the items the scavengers leave outside overnight in the weather are more often than not tossed in the rubbish by the volunteers who clean up the mess when they arrive at the store.

She said people who are genuinely donating items to help Vinnies' well-known welfare programs probably aren't aware their items could end up in landfill, or also, she suspects, in the hands of scavengers who are taking donations to sell them online.

Mr Shearman said "council wouldn't allow any other business to continue in that fashion.”

North Coast executive officer of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Michael Timbrell, said the volume of donations received to the store is "significant.”

"Most of what we get at the donation bins is reusable,” he said, citing a program for homeless people about to be launched as just one of the welfare initiatives the revenue from the store funds.

He argued that removing the bins, which have been at the store for "decades”, would make the problem of rubbish being dumped worse.

"We don't believe people will stop leaving stuff there if there bins are removed -- the bins have been there for so long,” he said.

"People will still leave things and create more mess -- nothing will be salvageable.

"Our concern is that it will create a bigger problem.”

He said the issue would then become a "community issue”, whereas now Vinnies volunteers clean up each morning, and the charity is footing the bill to take the rubbish to the tip.

He said at this point in time, that cost is within the store's budget.

"The good donations we get through those bins far outweigh the cost of removing rubbish,” he said.

Mr Timbrell said CCTV footage of scavenger's vehicles has been passed on to police.

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