STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
BERTRAM — Authorities could charge two people with theft after a man and a woman cleared the front stoop of the Bertram Library Thrift Store on April 29, making off with several boxes of donated items.
The Bertram Police Department received a report of theft at the store, 140 S. Gabriel St., the following day along with a cellphone photo of the suspects — believed to be in their mid-20s — sifting through items.
“It’s actually on thrift store property. They’re taking something without consent of the owner,” Bertram Police Chief J.J. Wilson said. “We’ve caught people before (taking items off the store’s stoop), and they told us, ‘I just needed a shirt,’ so we don’t pursue charges on anybody for personal needs.
“This was beyond that,” he added. “The fact that they took everything, potentially, theft charges could be filed.”
Donated items to the Bertram Library Thrift Store range from school supplies and household goods to shoes and clothing. Proceeds from the sale of those items support the Joann Cole Mitte Memorial Library in Bertram.
Thrift store volunteers typically collect large amounts of donated goods each weekend, sometimes as people unload unsold items from garage sales. The store’s officials surmised the thefts have been occurring for about a year.
As a result, one donor began keeping a close watch on the facility.
“A woman thought (the man and woman) were suspicious, so she took a photo. This guy has a huge knife on his belt,” Wilson said. “I would not confront him, but I would certainly recommend taking a photo from a safe distance.”
Investigators believe the couple might be collecting items to sell to area resale shops for profit.
“Everything you see in the photo was stolen,” the chief said. “This is more than taking for your own needs.”
The store has posted signs informing the public that the items left at the facility are donations.
“The library thrift store sells things for pennies on the dollar, and all the proceeds go to help the library,” Wilson said. “It’s win-win until someone breaks the chain of honesty and takes everything.”
In identifying the suspects, the public is asked to make note of details in the released photo such as tattoos, the knife sheath, clothing, and distinctive hairstyles.
The suspects might have left in a red SUV and a gray pickup truck.
Call the Bertram Police Department at (512) 756 3442 with information regarding the case. You may also leave a tip with the Hill Country Area Crime Stoppers at 1-866-756-8477, which could make you eligible for a cash reward.