The theft of a donation box from a counter of a store-- placed there to collect money for folks in need-- "stirs up strong negative emotions with just about everyone," said Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores.
"Unfortunately, a convenient location to collect donations can be a convenient location for theft," Lenard said.
A Port Deposit convenience store learned this over the weekend. Police said a woman entered the Landhope Farms store Sunday around 4:30 p.m. and took a donation box filled with almost $150 for BraveEli.com.
According to the group's website, the charity benefits pediatric cancer patients and is named for Eli Seth Matthews, a young boy who lost his battle with leukemia in 2011.
While no retailer wants to make it appear that they don’t trust their customers, steps can be taken to make a donation canister as secure as possible, especially how it can more securely attached to a countertop, Lenard said.
Another approach could be to wrap a chain or something similar to the canister, he said.
"Depending upon customer counts, the donation canister could be moved below the counter in slower periods when it might be easier for someone to grab the donations and quickly leave without being noticed, but that hampers donations during certain periods," he said.
In addition to making your store less likely to be a target of a theft like this, retailers may also want to post or share any details about the person they believe took the canister. In instances like this, it’s much more likely an acquaintance would be likely to help identify the suspect, Lenard added.
A survey by the National Association of Convenience Stores in 2016 found that such businesses contributed or collected nearly $1 billion to charities over a year-long period.
More than 97 percent of convenience store companies responding to the survey say they donate to charities. The median charitable contribution per store is $4,100 in direct contributions and $2,500 in donations collected.