CALLOUS thieves are costing charity shops thousands of pounds every year by stealing donation bags left on residents’ doorsteps, according to charity bosses.
Staff at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) shop in Pontefract say residents have reported seeing bags swiped minutes before the charity’s drivers arrive to collect them.
Deborah Tonks, assistant store manager at the shop on Beastfair, said: “A man from Banks Avenue in Ackworth witnessed bags being stolen from outside houses by a bogus charity collector.
“Our BHF van driver was minutes behind them wondering why there were no bags to collect.
“There was an article in the Express earlier this year when we noticed bags were going missing, and it did improve, but things have become even worse now.
“We are asking the public to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to the police.
“This is costing the BHF hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.”
Mrs Tonks said an average bag of donated items could bring in £25 in sales, and the Pontefract shop was losing around £300 per week in lost bags.
She added: “Any bags taken by anyone who doesn’t work for the name of the charity on the bag is a committing community fraud and if caught will be prosecuted.
“This kind of theft costs the public and charities thousands.
“Bag returns have been up to 25 per cent over the years, but has gradually gone down to eight per cent as more bogus collectors turn up.”
Residents can bring their donations into shops across the Five Towns or telephone to have their bags picked up at a specific time.
Call the BHF in Pontefract on 01977 600522 for private collections.
Anyone with information of thefts in their area can cal the police on their non emergency number 101.