The Thrift Store run by First United Methodist Church has encountered problems lately with people stopping by the store after business hours and taking merchandise left for the shop.

    Regardless of whether the items are placed in the drop box or in front of the building, taking merchandise intended for the thrift store is stealing and violators will be prosecuted, County Attorney Ron Hankins said.

    Depending on what value the thrift store sets on items taken, the theft would be a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

    Proceeds from the thrift store are used to help needy people pay their bills, so taking donated merchandise also hurts the community.

    To assure that donations are received, the women who run the store urge the public to bring the items inside the store during normal hours of operation, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday.