Aug 23 2011 By Hannah Bewley
Mananger Mark Shakespy and Assistant Manager Michelle Keates of St Lukes Hospice in Pinner who have had charity bags stolen that where left as donations outside the shop.
A PINNER charity is being forced to spend scarce resources on clearing up donations which thieves rummage through and leave strewn across the pavement.
The van, sent by St Luke's Hospice, to clear up the mess outside their shop on Bridge Street, Pinner started two weeks ago as donors leave goods by the shop door outside of opening hours which are targeted by "scavengers".
Maureen Farrar, operations manager for the charity, said: "This is not a new problem. People leave rubbish strewn around. People donate out of kindess and some people genuinely believe their donations will get to the shop and are genuinely upset when they find out it doesn't."
The owner of Hilton and Family Butchers, which is opposite the shop, Bob Prieg, said: "They are scavengers. I don't want to complain about the mess as people are doing it with a good heart, and people take advantage of that to steal."
A large number of donations have been left at weekends and evenings, especially during the summer as many people are clearing out their homes.
Sergeant Roni Doyle said: "There have been thefts from St Luke's. We have caught three people recently who were given £80 fines, anyone caught going through the bags will be given an £80 fine. If they are caught a second time it will be considered a criminal offence."
The Safer Neighbourhood Team has put a sign outside the shop in Romanian and English warning people about how seriously the police would take the case if they caught anyone going through the clothes.
Sergeant Doyle said it was not typical criminals who were responsible: "Most of the ones we have stopped have been in their 30s, one had a child and another one was a care assistant."
Colin Wilson, who works from 6.30am at the butcher shop, said: "They are there every morning, it's proper. Especially on a Friday morning. That stuff is for charity and people go in the shop and pay for it, but these people are just helping themselves to what should be going to a good cause. It's not a problem for us, but we shout out and they just carry on. One guy walked away with a wardrobe the other day."
The shop currently has a sign in the window discouraging people from leaving donations outside of opening hours, which are 9.30am to 5pm Monday to Saturday.