Buzz Lightyear toy helps company catch thieves

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A clothing donation bin company has developed a clever way to catch thieves stealing from their bins.

Mac Recycling is a private company that gathers clothing and other donated items that ultimately end up in thrift shops or are sent to impoverished communities. Recently, the company says they’ve seen a series of thefts from the bins located in some Douglas County shopping centers.

“We discovered we're losing up to 35 percent of our donations,” said Tim Peck, with Mac Recycling.

When the company discovered the thefts, they called on a familiar action hero, Buzz Lightyear. In the past, the company has used cameras and even guards to battle theft, but now they've employed an anti-theft device that's hidden in places the thieves would never guess.

“We have a Buzz Lightyear toy. He has a back pack (and) in this case we inserted a GPS tracking device into the back, Velcroed it and it goes in a bag of clothing,” Peck said.

Peck said he receives a text the minute Buzz Lightyear begins to move.

Last week, Buzz Lightyear helped Peck catch a suspected thief in the act.

When he received the text, Peck jumped on his computer and tracked the location where Buzz was going. Peck called police and they went to the home of Everette Barton.

“As we pulled up he was actually unloading the bags of our clothing into his garage,” said Peck. “When he was shown the tracking device, he confessed that he had stolen the bags of clothing from us."

The company is using about 90 tracking devices to find people who pilfer from their bins.

“We even caught a competitor up in Maryland stealing from us in a company truck,” said Peck.

The donation shipping company says the GPS tracking device has been very successful. They caught thieves in five other cases, but they say the plan to retire Buzz and find another cartoon character to carry it.