Charities are being hit by heartless thieves who target bag collections hitting the streets before the good cause collectors - that’s the shocking claim being made this week.
Local charity shops rely on the generosity of people to make donations of unwanted goods to sell in their stores and raise much needed cash.
But according to charities in both March and Wisbech they are being badly affected by a wave of heartless thefts, which sees bags intended for the charities being snatched from outside homes across the district.
One of those being hit is Open Chest based in Broad Street, March. Store manager Kath Dudley said the issue is causing real problems for her charity shop, which raises money to help good causes across Fenland.
“We do regular bag drops asking people to donate unwanted items, and more and more frequently we are getting complaints that bags left out for us have been picked up by people in anonymous white vans.
“The number of bags we are getting back has seriously dropped. We have also heard of people knocking on doors offering cash for the full bags and of course you can’t blame people for taking the money, but it is hitting charities,” said Kath.
She urges people wanting to donate items to charity to bring them into the shop. Direct collections can also be arranged by contacting Open Chest on 01354-654403.
The same problem is being experienced by charities in Wisbech with some shops having bags of goods taken from off their own doorsteps before staff arrive in the mornings.
Sue Small, assistant manager at the British Heart Foundation shop, said: “We know bags have been taken from outside the shop, we also know that bags left out for street collections are being targeted. People are beating our volunteers to make the pick-ups and taking the bags. They keep items good enough to sell at car boots, and are selling the rest for rags. It is upsetting for those who want to give their unwanted goods to charity, and it is a terrible blow to shops that rely on donations to stock the shelves.”
She also advised anyone wanting to donate items to take them to the Market Place shop, or to contact the store to arrange collection.
A police spokesman said: “It is difficult to investigate without specific information, so we would appeal to anyone who believes they have solid information about this kind of incident to get in touch.”