Volunteers at a charity thrift store in Ladner usually spend their time sorting through treasures – but they're increasingly being forced to clean up messes in the shop's donation area.

Angie Smith, from the Delta Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store, said people have been showing up overnight and pilfering the donation bins before volunteers have a chance to bring the contents inside.

In one incident, Smith said, a man in a "very nice pickup truck" pulled up to the store and started emptying the bins into his vehicle.

People will also rip open bags and boxes, leaving a mess for the volunteers to find when they show up in the morning.

Smith, the co-ordinator for the thrift store, said they installed a surveillance camera and even tried locking the donation bins, but that's done little to discourage the looting.

"They will put glue in our locks, they will bolt-cut them off," she said.

People also sometimes use the back of the store as a dumping ground. In one particularly brazen incident, someone left behind nine bags of gyprock for the charity store to take care of.

Smith said cleaning up other people's messes on a daily basis is taking a toll on the volunteers, some of whom are in their 70s and 80s.

"They love doing what they're doing, and then when something like that happens, it's really unfortunate to see," she said.

With no obvious solution, the thrift store is asking people to only drop off donations during store hours, so nothing piles up overnight – and so volunteers can keep the mess to a minimum.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim