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GPS Tracking Devices in Clothing Donation Bins Lead to Arrests

SCPD Able to Track Stolen Bins That Were Used in Charity Scam

December 27, 2011

Breast Cancer Help, Inc. has announced that two clothing donation bins that were reported stolen have been recovered. Both bins were equipped with a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) tracking device that enabled officers from the Suffolk County Police Department to locate the bins and arrest two men in connection with stealing the bins and selling the collected clothing for their own personal financial gain.

On December 13, the SCPD received a complaint from Breast Cancer Help, Inc., which reported two bins being stolen from their original locations at parking lots on Sunrise Highway in Bay Shore. Using the information from the GPS devices, police tracked down the bins to 185 Cortland Street in Lindenhurst. Following an investigation by Third Squad detectives and Crime Control Section officers, police arrested Cesar Antonio Martinez-Duran and Sergio Sandoval-Martinez, both of Amityville, on December 14. When police arrived, they also found two other bins that were in the process of being altered and stripped of their original markings in preparation of being repainted.

According to police, the suspects allegedly stole the bins, stripped the Breast Cancer Help name off the bins and replaced the name with “Donations International Helping Hand,” which was a non-existent charity. They later took the clothing out of the bins and sold them at a profit.

Mr. Martinez Duran was charged with two counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property 4th Degree, one count of Criminal Mischief 4th Degree and an outstanding warrant. Mr. Sandoval-Martinez was charged with one count of Criminal Mischief 4th Degree for altering the bins.

For more than 10 years, Breast Cancer Help, Inc. has relied on these donations to fund health and wellness programs for breast cancer patients, survivors and their families. The money has gone to purchase or lease advanced state-of-the-art digital mammography units at local hospitals, and to provide services for cancer patients and survivors and their family members free of charge. Earthrite Textile Recycling, a Ronkonkoma-based company, administers the drop boxes at each location, empties the bins, sorts the clothes and sends them out to clothing distribution centers.

The bins also serve the purpose of protecting the environment, keeping used clothing out of municipal landfills and getting those clothes onto the backs of the people who are less fortunate. Currently, the clothing recycling program has raised over $1 million. Unlike other clothing bin programs that purport to aid local charities — only to see the money go out of state or overseas, or even being used for personal enrichment — all the money raised from Breast Cancer Help’s clothing donation program stays here on Long Island.

“We would like to thank the Suffolk County Police Department for recovering our clothing donation bins so quickly, with the aid of the Global Positioning Satellite tracking devices located in these bins,” said Alex Fezza, Executive Director, Breast Cancer Help, Inc. “It is deplorable that these people would not only steal these bins, but sell the clothing to enrich themselves, thereby diverting the money from those who need it the most: those who are diagnosed with or recovering from breast cancer and their families. In addition, each bin costs $11,000 to replace. As a result, this incurred expense will impact our ability to sustain our health and wellness programs.”

Thieves Weren't Counting on GPS in the Donation Bins
January 6-12, 2012. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Long Island Business News



Breast Cancer Help, Inc. • 32 Park Avenue • Bay Shore, New York 11706 • Phone: (631) 675-9003