Donated clothing is big business, and MAC Recycling sells it by the pound to help programs like D.A.R.E. America.
"It's about 35 percent down, which is huge," Max Glikman, MAC Recycling’s operations manager, said.
D.A.R.E.'s National President of Development Tom Hazelton said widespread thefts from clothing bins are cutting directly into programs to help children avoid drugs, gangs and violence, as well as hurting the companies, which collect the donations for charities.
"Robert just last year had to lay some people off because of the cut backs," Gilkman said. "So people lose jobs over people stealing from clothing that's suppose to be going to children."
As a last resort, MAC Recycling has turned to stuffed animals, like a pink teddy bear they displayed for us (see video), equipped with a global positioning system device to track down the thieves.
"We use stuffed animals such as this one right here,” said Glikman. “Just rip a little hole, put the device right inside there, use a little Velcro, put this inside of a bag of clothing and see if it moves."
The company mixed a hundred such tracked toys into its bins, and it's enabled them to call the police and to direct them to the stolen items while they're still in the process of being carted away.
Here in Maryland, they've learned the thefts had little to do with necessity, and everything to do with making a buck.
"It actually was one of our competitors that was taking clothing from us, and we've also found just regular people to were taking the clothing and selling it at flea markets... local flea markets," said Glikman.
The thefts have gotten so bad the company has disabled the ability for people to go on line to find the donation bin nearest them for fear the thieves would use it as well.
The GPS devices cost the company $14,000 and the monitoring is an extra $2,000 per month, but we're told it'll be well worth it if they can stop the people who are stealing from those who can least afford it.