A mother who is raising money for her autistic son has slammed a thief who stole two charity boxes from a South Derbyshire store. Beth Fletcher, from Church Gresley, said that she was "disappointed" after she found out that a man had smashed his way into Sainsbury's in Glamorgan Way, Church Gresley, and took two boxes for local charity Charlie's Voice.
The 33-year-old set up the charity so that she could raise funds to get her son Charlie, six, who suffers with autism, to the Autism Treatment Centre, in Massachusetts, for life-changing treatment. Mrs Fletcher said: "This is absolutely disappointing. I can't believe that someone would steal from a local charity.
"We work really hard to get the money that we raise."
Beth Fletcher said she was "disappointed" that a thief stole charity boxes that were there to raise money for her son Charlie
The incident, which took place at around 3.10am on Wednesday, February 15, saw a man use a brick to smash the window of the Sainsbury's store.
He then took two charity boxes from the till area, which were there to raise money for the local charity. Despite the theft, Mrs Fletcher said that she could not be too downhearted after kind-hearted staff at the store then took part in a fund-raiser that raised hundreds of pounds.
She said: "Staff dressed up as superheroes and they raised £450 to replace the money that was stolen. I think there was more money than what was in the boxes. So something good has come out of it. It I great to see the community get behind everything that we do."
Charlie struggles to communicate as a result of his autism and Mrs Fletcher is planning to go for one final trip to America in April as part of the intensive The Son-Rise Program.
Mrs Fletcher said: "There has definitely been an improvement with Charlie. We are hoping that within the next two years he will be able to move into regular school. It is an exciting thought. Once we reach that stage I then hope to work with other families who are going through something similar to get them the training needed for their children."
Rachel Pickering, store manager for the Sainsbury's store, said she was "surprised" with how much the community got behind the store's fund-raising effort.
She said: "The whole team were very upset when we found that the charity boxes had been taken. We put a lot of work into raising money for Charlie's Voice. One of the ways that we fund-raise is to dress up as a superhero and we decided to do it again. I was surprised at how touched the community got when they heard what had happened.
"They all got behind us to raise £450, which was more than what was in the boxes at the time."
An appeal has been issued by Derbyshire police to help trace the thief. Anyone with information is asked to call PC Rebecca Thompson on 101, quoting reference 17000065857. Alternatively, send her a message online by visiting the 'contact us' section of the Derbyshire Police website www.derbyshire.police.uk/Contact-Us.
You can also call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.