‘Heartless’ theft of charity bags rises in Uttlesford

CALLOUS thieves have been blasted for stealing bags of used clothing from people’s doorsteps in a growing fad estimated to be costing UK charities £15million a year.

Charity shops across Uttlesford say that criminals were profiteering from the “heartless” thefts and said the problem was a regular occurrence in the area.

Sharon Smith, manager of Cancer Research UK, on King Street, Saffron Walden, said: “You see thieves on Crimewatch going into clothing bins and profiteering from what is big business. It is something that happens a lot around here.

“We don’t put bags through people’s doors any more but often they drop items off at our shop.

“On Tuesday night, at around 7.30pm, I drove past and saw a bag of clothing on the doorstep, but when I came back to put it inside at 9pm the bag was gone.

“It is unbelievable people like this are out there.”

Trevor Shaw, head of operations for the Salvation Army, said: “Individuals who steal clothing donated via our collection bags have no regard for those we are raising money to help.

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“Theft threatens to damage the trust, goodwill and charitable spirit that has been built up over the years between the generous general public and organisations such as ourselves.”

The British Heart Foundation also weighed in on the controversy, with Essex area manager Tracey Linnette calling bogus collections and stolen charity bags “a huge problem for charities” costing around £15million a year.

Uttlesford Inspector Colin Cox, based at Saffron Walden police station, said the theft of charity bags from residents’ doorsteps and clothing banks across the district was a growing trend.

“It has started to pick up and is becoming more prevalent. Unfortunately it is seen as an easy win,” he said.

“We are stepping up patrols in the areas likely to be hit, particularly where there are clothing banks, but it is also important people only put charity bags on their doorstep on the day of collection to minimise the opportunity for thieves.”

Insp Cox added: “It still classes as theft at the end of the day. People might think it is a victimless crime but the aim is for vulnerable people to benefit from the used clothing going to charities and this is being prevented.”