Charity donations being stolen from outside shops across Redbridge
- Credit: Archant
Callous thieves are taking donations from outside charity shops across Redbridge.
Bags of clothes, toys and bric-a-brac left by well-wishers overnight are targeted and volunteers have also reported stealing inside the shops and burglaries.
One man wearing a Big Issue seller’s uniform was seen examining clothes left outside the British Heart Foundation shop, in Cranbrook Road, Ilford, last week.
Steve Fraine, who took a photo, said he had seen a woman take a donation bag from the same spot just days before.
He added: “It happens all the time in Ilford – it shows how bad things are getting when people are stealing from charity shops.
“You can’t say anything in case you get your head knocked off.”
The PDSA shop in High Street, Barkingside, displays a sign on the door warning people not to leave items outside.
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Volunteer Kathleen Gale said it is hard to trace what has been stolen because they only receive what is left in the morning.
She added: “It’s really widespread – it happens at all the charity shops and unfortunately there’s a lot of stealing from inside as well.
“We have noticed shoplifting is happening more in the last year. I don’t know whether people think that because it’s a charity shop you have the green light to help yourself.
“It makes you feel very vulnerable.”
The shop, in High Street, has also been targeted twice by burglars in recent months.
In February, thieves broke in through the back door and got away with the safe, and last month a Henry hoover was taken in another raid.
The PDSA is “desperate” for donations following the theft and a fire in the Cranbrook Road, Ilford, branch earlier this year.
The manager of the Sue Ryder Care shop, in The Broadway, Woodford Green, said bags left outside overnight are regularly plundered, leaving clothes strewn all over the pavement and people have been seen breaking into padlocked rubbish bins behind the building.
She added: “I think with the climate how it is out there it’s harder and there’s more stealing.
“People are looking for anything now.”
Sharon Robinson, manager of the Cancer Research UK shop in George Lane, South Woodford, said the problem has been going on for years.
She added: “One woman left four or five bags outside at 7am and by the time I got in at 9am they were gone.
“The worst is when they go through the bags and leave the mess for us to clear up.
“They’re just looking for anything they can sell – there are even people who go through the rubbish.”
Sharon believes some thieves look for electrical goods they can strip down for scrap metal.
Stuart Beaney, manager of The Children’s Society, in George Lane, South Woodford, said he blames people who leave the donations outside “almost as much as” the thieves.
He added: “Some people steal for boot fairs or for their own personal greed but the root of the whole problem is people leaving donations outside. If they really want us to have it, they should wait until we are open.”