Stolen Salvation Army toys recovered

by The Canadian Press

BRAMPTON, Ontario— Toronto police have recovered a massive cache of toys and donated goods they say were stolen from a Salvation Army warehouse.

Police say they had to use three tractor-trailers to haul the items, which were found Friday when officers searched a commercial warehouse in Brampton, northwest of the city.

They say they discovered 146 skids stacked with items including toys, baby cribs, strollers and food.

Police say the donations were “diverted” from the Salvation Army and being sold for profit.

It’s alleged up to 100,000 items worth some $2 million were stolen from the charity’s facility in north-end Toronto over nearly two years.

Police say they’ll return the goods once they’ve finished taking an inventory.

In a statement a Salvation Army spokesman commended police for their investigation but said they don’t expect to get the items back quickly.

“The Salvation Army is under no illusions that the recovered toys can be returned to us soon, as it appears likely they will be required as evidence in any criminal court proceedings that arise,” John Murray said.

Police haven’t said what percentage of the allegedly stolen donations have been recovered.

More information is expected to be released later today.

Police have been investigating since September but have not made any arrests.

Murray told reporters Wednesday that a whistleblower tipped off the organization a few months ago, sparking an internal audit that made the “troubling” discovery.

That probe lead to the firing of executive director David Rennie. No criminal charges have been laid.

Murray said the charity believes its Toronto warehouse was the only location targeted by the alleged theft.

He said the Toronto depot had video surveillance but that auditor KPMG has been retained to see if anything more can be done.

The discovery came as the Salvation Army starts its annual Christmas Kettle donation campaign.

Murray said that about 140,000 toys are distributed to families each holiday season from the Toronto warehouse, but that no one will go without.

“I can assure you that anyone in need this Christmas will be helped by the Salvation Army,” he said.