Winnipeg advocate calls for empathy following theft of donation box at Tim Hortons

It happened in a matter of seconds. A donation box set up to help send underserved youth to camp was stolen from a Tim Hortons in Bridgwater Centre in Winnipeg.

A witness to the incident said it was shocking to see something so brazen in his neighbourhood — an area he believed was safe. He took a video of the incident, which showed a woman yanking the box off the counter before making her way through the front doors on May 14.

Global News isn’t identifying the witness who provided the footage, due to safety concerns.

“People were incredulous and just in awe. The entire store kind of went quiet for a second when people realized what was happening. And nobody wants to get involved because there might be repercussions,” said Kehler.

“This is something you don’t really experience in this area.”

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Click to play video: 'Brazen theft ‘a reminder that poverty is everywhere,’ Social Planning Council of Winnipeg says'

Brazen theft ‘a reminder that poverty is everywhere,’ Social Planning Council of Winnipeg says

He further said that he hoped such incidents would not occur or take place in other parts of the city.

Winnipeg Police Service said they were investigating the theft but noted no arrests had been made. Tim Hortons didn’t respond to requests for a comment.

More empathy needed: advocate

Kate Kehler, executive director with the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, said that while something like this could leave bystanders shocked, it is important to leave room for empathy for those in need of help.

“Desperate people do desperate things,” said Kehler. “Governments who have the money need to actually start addressing poverty meaningfully in Manitoba again.”

As of December, property crimes in Bridgwater Centre were up by nearly 71 per cent, compared to the year before. The neighbourhood is among a list of many that have experienced big jumps in crime since 2021 — numbers which also surpass pre-pandemic levels.

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The Province of Manitoba has the highest child and family poverty rates. Kehler said support to address addictions and income disparity would help curb poverty-related crimes.

— with files from Global’s Rosanna Hempel

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg police concerned about rash of thefts involving distracted victims'

Winnipeg police concerned about rash of thefts involving distracted victims

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