At first, workers at the Niagara Furniture Bank weren’t concerned when they noticed the organization’s van wasn’t parked in its usual spot – in the gravel parking lot off Ontario Street.
The furniture bank’s executive director Nancy Sutton said the warehouse manager called her Thursday morning, asking if she had the cube van.
They suspected one of the truck drivers started his shift early, and had taken the vehicle to fuel it up for another day of collecting used furniture donations from throughout the region, and giving it to people in need.
As the day rolled on and the 2014 van was no where to be seen, “we realized it was stolen,” she said.
It didn’t, however, remain stolen for long.
“Luckily it had our phone number on it, because this poor guy in Hamilton phoned,” she said.
The man saw the van parked outside his home, idling on the side of the road .
“He said there’s furniture in the back,” she added.
Hamilton police then recovered the vehicle, that had been hot wired at sometime during the night, and stolen.
“The police and the towing company could not un-wire it for some reason,” she said. “They towed it to this place in Hamilton and just let it run out of fuel.”
Sutton said she’s received “a few phone calls from citizens and we had an elected official call,” since the van was stolen, sympathizing with the organization.
“We have had that and it makes you feel good,” she said.
The damage to the van is covered by insurance, but the deductible will still cost $500. And that’s just one of the losses to its slim budget the charity faces.
“Of course, there’s the gas because it had a full tank,” she said.
Without the use of its van for two full days – so far – the organization could not pickup furniture from clients. And that amounts to a few hundred dollars more in losses.
Although there is no charge for people who drop off old furniture at the 53 Ontario St. warehouse, the organization charges fees starting at $35 to pick up furniture at homes throughout the region.
“We do have another truck, but it’s in really bad shape. We’ve applied for Trillium Grant to get a new truck, but who knows,” she said.
She said most stops for furniture pickups cost about $50, and the losses are mounting.
Since the truck was stolen, she said they have already lost at least $600 in income.
Meanwhile, she said people in need are being affected as well, awaiting the arrival of donated furniture.
“But you know what. It’s been great, the support.”
More information about the organization is avaiolable online at niagarafurniturebank.com.