Warning after theft of charity boxes

HEARTLESS thieves have deprived charities of potentially hundreds of pounds by stealing collection boxes from local shops.

As a result of a recent spate of thefts from High Street shops, Montrose police are urging businesses to make sure their collection boxes and tins are well secured, preferably chained down.

Claire Jaycock, manager of the DebRA shop, said four or five businesses have been targeted in recent weeks including Shelter and R Doig & Sons.

She said: “We found a collection box up an alley beside Bargain’s Galore. The label had been taken off and replaced with a hand-written one for another charity, which we thought might have been used for street or door-to-door collections.

“Shelter had their can stolen on Friday, and it was chained down, and Lloyd’s Pharmacy’s was stolen too. I believe Cancer Research has also had a couple of thefts and it seems to be regulars who are doing it. Montrose is such as small town you wouldn’t think anyone would do that.”

Steven Doig, who runs gents’ clothing shop R Doig & Sons, said the theft of the box had been a personal blow. He was collecting money for Sick Kids Friends Foundation, the charity that supports Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children where his son spent the first month of his life.

He said: “It happened about two weeks ago but I didn’t actually see when. I just noticed it wasn’t there and the incredible thing was it had a chain connecting it to the till so someone must have stood there and got the chain off, or cut it. It wasn’t a simple case of just lifting it.

“A year past May my son was born with a medical condition and was rushed to Sick Kids in Edinburgh where he spent the first month of his life. My wife and I were so impressed with the staff and his treatment that I ordered the collection box there and then to help raise money for them.

“That’s what’s got me, and it made it personal. I just think it’s the lowest of the low and I’d rather they’d stolen some stock than the box. It’s the worst kind of thing. I’ll get another one but will have to put it behind the counter so that it’s not so noticeable.”

Charities in the town were targeted last year with thefts of donations reported by the PDSA, Oxfam and DebRA shops. The PDSA also fell victim to bogus charity workers who intercepted collections of donations from homes in the area.

Local community officer Constable Ali Hutchison this week said that businesses could take simple precautions to secure their collection boxes.

He said: “Extra attention will be given to the High Street area and premises but I’d ask that shop staff are extra-vigilant and report any unusual activity. I’d also recommend that boxes are padlocked and chained and if anyone needs further advice I’ll be happy to pay them a visit. I’ll also be going round the charity shops to try to reassure them.”