Aspen Thrift Shop boosts security

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

ASPEN – The Thrift Shop of Aspen is supposed to be the place to find a steal of a deal, not simply steal.

That’s why the shop’s operators have arranged for the installation of surveillance cameras in the alley behind the Hopkins Avenue store. The area outside the back door, where donors drop off bags of clothing and other contributed goods of all sorts, is a target for thievery, according to Diane Wallace, co-president of the Thrift Shop.

The shop already has two video cameras mounted above the drop-off area, but the system doesn’t produce footage of a high enough quality to identify perpetrators, read license-plate numbers or produce still photographs that can be fired off to the Police Department in an email, Wallace said.

The new cameras, which Wallace hoped to see installed Wednesday, will be much like the ones the city of Aspen placed at its recycling center. They reportedly helped cut down on the illegal dumping that was going on there, she said.

The Thrift Shop’s all-volunteer crew never knows what it will find at the back door on a given morning, but the pile is generally bigger on Mondays than any other day of the week because the shop is closed Sundays.

Last weekend, the existing video cameras documented someone carrying off multiple bags Sunday morning, but the images weren’t clear enough to identify the culprit, Wallace said. She suspects that the individual was seeking items that could be resold.

It’s not the first time someone has helped themselves to Thrift Shop donations.

“When somebody comes and steals what’s out here, they’re taking away from the community,” Wallace said.

Whatever the Thrift Shop can’t sell is loaded into a tractor-trailer parked in Carbondale. When it’s full, the load is taken to Denver to an outfit that recycles virtually all of it. The Thrift Shop is paid by the pound for the material.

Those proceeds, along with the revenue from items sold in the store in Aspen (some real finds can wind up among the shop’s merchandise), are all donated to local causes. The Thrift Shop gave roughly $500,000 to some 200 nonprofits last year, Wallace noted.

“Seriously, you’re going to steal stuff from us? That’s as low as you can go,” she said.