A LIFE-SAVING charity has hit out at callous thieves who have stolen bags full of donated clothes from doorsteps.
The Great North Air Ambulance relies on charitable donations to run their vital service, bringing specialist trauma doctors and paramedics to the scene of an emergency.
But its charity collection bags have started going missing from outside homes in Easington Colliery and Peterlee.
At least 10 bags have disappeared and police have made two arrests in connection with the thefts.
Great North Air Ambulance director Jim Entwhistle said: “Members of the public spotted what they believed was suspicious behaviour and reported it to the police, and we are really grateful to them for doing that.
“Sadly thefts like these are not uncommon. It is something we see fairly regularly.
“This is clothing intended for us.
“It could be costing us thousands and thousands in total, money that would otherwise be spent on air rescues.”
Mr Entwhistle said genuine staff of the Air Ambulance Trading Company, which operates the bag collections, wear ID badges and drive branded vehicles.
He added: “It’s encouraging that people are looking out and keeping their eyes open.
“I would like to thank these people and the police for doing that.”
Sergeant Ian Dickinson, of Seaham Police, said: “Some of the people who donate these clothes aren’t well off themselves, yet they are prepared to give what little they have to help charity.
“It’s horrendous, and, unfair on the charities that are losing money which is necessary to save people’s lives, especially the Air Ambulance.”
l A man, 30, and a woman, 21, have been charged with theft. Both are due to appear at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on August 1.