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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Thieves steal 13,000 diapers from Durham-based non-profit Diaper Bank of North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Authorities in North Carolina are searching for whoever made a massive, unauthorized withdrawal from a diaper bank.

The Diaper Bank of North Carolina says 13,000 diapers were stolen last weekend. The Durham-based non-profit provides diapers to struggling families.

Founder and executive director Michelle Old said she went Monday to pick up an order to be distributed to a homeless shelter. She found the order had been strewn across the floor, and various sizes of diapers were missing.

Old said losing the sizes 4 and 5 diapers was especially difficult because babies can stay in them for up to a year and they are hard to keep in stock.

"We already struggle and usually are low on those, but they completely took every diaper," Old said.

In addition, Old said thieves stole all the diapers from a reserve room that holds extra diapers and that no one outside the organization knows about.

A group of volunteers from a church had been in the building last Saturday helping to re-wrap 6,000 packaged diapers for distribution in the community, Old said, adding that the shelves were full on Saturday.

Old said some people told her the diapers have turned up at local yard sales, and were being sold on the street.

"A couple of people, since hearing about this, have contacted us and say they have been approached in the downtown area with people selling our diapers. Our tags are still on them," she said, adding that one woman told her they were going for $4 a package.

The diaper bank was formed one year ago. Old said the goal was to distribute 50,000 diapers in a year, but the organization has handed out 139,000 in 11 months. She said the mission will go on despite the theft.

"The best that we can do is to hope we get the word out and try to fill our shelves again," Old said. "We're not in a position where we have any kind of long-running budget. Every penny goes toward buying diapers. This is not going to stop us. We are determined to keep moving forward and keep covering bottoms. That's what we're going to do."

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