Children’s Charity Finally Gets Its Forklift

Police LineDo you believe in happy endings?

It took more than four months and the risk of its director’s burial fund, but a charity that aids Romanian orphans finally received a new forklift to replace one that was stolen last December.

Jungheinrich UK donated a forklift valued at £12,000 — or more than $18,000 in US dollars — to Convoy Aid Romania, which had its only lift truck stolen from its warehouse by thieves over the New Year’s weekend.

Martin Hall, area sales manager for Jungheinrich, said the company had been using the vehicle at its facility in Dresden, Germany, but decided to donate it to the charity after hearing about the charity’s plight.

Without the forklift, Convoy Aid Romania had been on the brink of closing its doors permanently. But the donation has offered the charity new hope.

Forklift Helped Homeless Orphans

The theft occurred sometime between December 10 and January 2 at the headquarters of Convoy Aid, which is based in Stockton. The vehicle, which was valued at $10,586 was stolen along with several other items. Volunteers at the charity used the vehicle to load trucks with shoe boxes filled with toys donated by British schoolchildren and sent to orphanages in Romania.

Thieves apparently sawed through a chain and padlock on the gate to the charity’s warehouse, then forced open to large doors, police said. Once inside, the stole the six-ton forklift, as well as a large compressor, an electrical generator, and some tools.

Astonishing Reward Offered

In February, Convoy Aid founder and director Rod Jones offered his life savings as a reward for the safe return of the stolen forklift.

Jones told the website Gazette Live that he had saved about  £2,000 — the equivalent of about $3,006 — to pay for his funeral expenses. But he said he was willing to part with of the money if it means getting back a forklift that is critical to the organization’s mission.

Security Increased at Facility

Since the theft, Convoy Aid has installed security cameras and a closed circuit television system that provides 24-hour surveillance on its facilities. But it was still working without a forklift up until the donation from Jungheinrich.

Jones said it took 25 volunteers an entire day to load a truck full of donations before it could be sent to Romanian orphanages. Now one person in the donated forklift could perform the same amount of work in about four hours.

Plans were immediately drawn up to assemble a new load of donations bound for Romania. Jones said he hoped to have a truck full of items on its way to the orphans by the end of the week.

The forklift that had been stolen was “sold” to the charity for the nominal sum of a few pounds by the Linde Forklift company. It replaced another forklift that the company had lent to the charity on a regular basis.


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