AIDS Assistance Thrift Store Targeted for Burglaries

By: 
Gabriela Medina

A local thrift and consignment store has become a target for late-night lingering thieves who hope to get their hands on vintage article pieces, despite the cause for which the store stands for. The AIDS Assistance Thrift Store has undergone a robbery earlier in the year and two recent break-ins in the past few weeks.

The AIDS Assistance Thrift Store has been known to serve the Long Beach community for 30 years. Being located on 4th Street for 19 years has led to a shift in locations as expenses to cover the rental costs had increased from $3,000 to $9,000. While now located on the corner of Temple Avenue and Anaheim Street, the store has undergone three robberies since its opening in December two years ago.

After their move to the new location, business was reasonable until it had to temporarily shut down due to the pandemic. After the holidays, it remained closed from March until June which affected the store. “Gradually, the business has come back since it has re-opened. Still a little sketchy, but keeping business open for our clients,” said Danny Johnson, who manages the location.

Sketchy is right in terms of unwanted business as Johnson explained the recent burglaries. “The first [break in] was in early January and the people came in and stole vintage clothes. Then the week before last [last week of March] on early Monday morning about 3 a.m. or so, they came in and stole some jewelry, but they came back a few days later on early Wednesday morning and cleaned us out completely on jewelry. They also took expensive shoes and jackets.” Sighing he said, “This is something that we can’t keep doing. It’s difficult.”

Johnson’s neighbor was the one to make the discovery for the first attack. The woman next door had called to inform him that the back door had been opened. The recent break-ins involved shattering the glass from a window. Johnson firmly believes that the recent burglaries involved the same people. “I think it was the same people. It’s got to be the same people. It was just people who saw we had jewelry and they came back.”

He believes that the unknown attackers are night crawlers who come out to play while everyone is usually resting. “We have a lot of strange people here, but we also have a lot of drugs and I see people walking around like zombies all the time. When the sun goes down, the outside changes.” He paused, “People who aren’t normally out during the day come out. I just observe it and it’s sad. I think the whole city is suffering under that.”

Needless to say, the store that was founded three decades ago, continues to go on about its day with upgraded security systems installed. Its main priority is to remain open to continue helping with the needs of individuals in the HIV and AIDS community. It is the only non-profit organization that provides help for individuals living with chronic diseases.

Johnson explained the importance of the store to him. “For me, it’s kinda a commitment that I made way back in the ‘80s for helping our fellow human beings. We have a program here where case management from St. Mary’s Hospital care clinic, care program, health department and APLA Health Center in Long Beach, can send clients to us to get free clothing, free household items and whatnot.”

“The community at large, we have appreciated our community for 30 years; the people who donate to us, who come in and buy from us. Our dedication for keeping our doors open is very strong and we’ve gone through hardships but we’ve always weathered them. I thank the community for helping us. They always have. It’s all been for our clients. That’s what it’s all about.”

When the doors are opened, the store accepts donations from community members as well as donations to the GoFundMe link available on the AIDS Assistance Thrift Store page on Facebook.

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