A BURLY thief has been branded ‘the lowest of the low’ after stealing bags of goods left on donors’ doorsteps for an animal charity.
The white van man plundered the PDSA sacks from Hall Road, Rolleston-on-Dove, just an hour before a genuine collector arrived to get them.
Housewife Claire Redfern saw him grab two of the pink bags from outside neighbours’ homes.
“It was a despicable act, preying on a charity that could not afford to be ripped off,” she said. “It was the lowest of the low.”
Earlier, Mrs Redfern had filled her own PDSA sack with unwanted clothes after it was delivered by the charity at the beginning of the week.
She expected a bona fide charity worker to collect the bag on Friday but was stunned when she saw the ‘thick set’ thief stuffing those left by her neighbours into his ‘dirty white van’, which bore a registration starting ‘SP06’.
Although the man drove off as soon as he realised he was being watched, Mrs Redfern retrieved her own sack to prevent it being stolen.
“The PDSA man then came about three-quarters of an hour to an hour later in the proper van,” she said.
“He looked really disappointed.”
Mrs Redfern said the theft would prompt her to change the way she helped the PDSA.
“I shall give but I won’t do it with doorstep collections,” she said.
“I shall take it down myself instead of being robbed.”
Mrs Redfern urged other donors to follow her lead to prevent charities from being stung by a problem she claimed was ‘rife’.
A spokesman for the PDSA charity shop in Station Street, Burton, said: “It just makes you feel sick, the fact they are taking something from the needy.
“People can’t just afford to give things away like they used to and the charities can’t afford to lose out.”
She said all charities were being affected by the crime, which was on the increase.
“It’s been reported to the police in some instances, but unless the offenders are caught doing it there’s not a lot people can do about it,” the spokesman said.
She urged people who caught the thieves to note their vehicles’ registration numbers and inform police.