The ARC of Anchorage seems to exude the spirit of Christmas — tucked away off Northern Lights in East Anchorage, surrounded by snow-covered stands of spruce – you’re more likely to encounter a cross-country skier instead of a drive-by thief.


But this year’s season of giving has turned into one of taking. Instead of waiting for clothes and other secondhand goods to turn up for sale at Value Village, thieves are helping themselves to donations.


At least twice a week, donation bins have been raided in the early morning hours.


Surveillance footage shows the same thieves came back twice this week. The video shows one burglar emptying the bins and a driver cruising by to pick. The same car was spotted again on Christmas Eve morning.


“They’re taking away directly from the programs from the ARC of Anchorage,” said Ian Casey, operations manager at the ARC of Anchorage. “They’re taking away from people who experience developmental disabilities.”


“I think it’s terrible,” said Anne Burch, who has received job training from the ARC. “I think it’s selfish.”


Burch, who works the phones to ask for donations, says it deprives families who can’t afford to buy new things.


The thefts and damage have run into the thousands of dollars and involve more than just the bins.


After thieves broke into a fenced-in area, fuel lines were cut in some of the ARC’s delivery trucks and the tanks were drained. Equipment was also stolen.


The main tool to gain access seems to be a bolt cutter.


Casey picked up a busted lock in front of a bin that was broken into Wednesday morning.


“It’s frustrating,” he said, holding the lock that had just been replaced.


“The people who put their donations in the donation box last night, they thought they were going to be helping the ARC of Anchorage and instead it got stolen,” said Casey.


Casey said Anchorage Police have been investigating the thefts – and ARC has its own nightly security patrols; but so far, the drive-by burglars have avoided being caught in the act.


The ARC is asking people to put their donations in the bins only during business hours, when they’re checked on a regular basis. Better yet, call and ask for pick-up.