A local security firm has come to the aid of a San Antonio Salvation Army location in a battle against break-ins and illegal dumping. For years, the thrift store at 2711 West Avenue has had a major problem with people who leave donations outside their gates after-hours.
Scavengers pilfer anything of value and trash what they leave behind, according to Major Tim Farrell, who oversees the local rehabilitation effort for the Salvation Army.
After neighborhood advocate Ernest Salinas started a campaign to make a positive change and stop the dumping, help is at hand. Pete Ballard of Pro-Vigil, a local surveillance firm, contacted the non-profit organization after seeing a report about the problem on KENS 5 and offered to install monitored security cameras free of charge.
"This is just a way for us to give back," Ballard said.
The work was done Tuesday and the cameras will be on guard 24/7. Ballard said that the organization's parking lot and donation bins will be monitored during nighttime hours when no one is on the premises.
Ballard says that when illegal activity is detected, an alarm will sound. If the perpetrators fail to leave the area, police will be called.
"Historically we have a 93 percent success rate of running people off when we hit the audible, so generally that will run them off. But if not, we can contact the police and send them right over," Ballard said.
Ballard added that he wanted to help the Salvation Army because his family has a long history with the group, saying that his father served on the organization's board of directors when he was a child.
"This city is our home, and it's been really good to us, and we like to do what we can to help good folks like the Salvation Army," Ballard said.
Farrell noted that the help comes at a terrific time.
"We looked into ways to secure it ourselves and those cost money. And we didn't have certain things in the budget, so there was no way for us to handle the situation," Farrell explained.
Farrell said that he is glad that the positive change has come from shining a light on a long-festering problem.
"It's a huge blessing! It has cost money. It has cost time. It's frustrating, not only for the community but for the Salvation Army as well," Farrell said.
Salinas, whose efforts led to the change, said that he is delighted with the progress.
"Certainly it's a first step in getting this place cleaned up and getting people to stop dumping,” Salinas said. “So I would like to thank the KENS community, KENS viewers that watched your news and stepped up to do good in our community.”