A THIEF strolled into a charity shop and swiped two purses belonging to the kind-hearted volunteers who give up their time to help others.
One of the purses contained sentimental photographs of family members which Joan Johnson fears she will never see again.
Joan, 61, and Lesley Dawkins, 51, were volunteering at the Hartlepool and District Hospice shop in the town’s York Road, when the thief struck just before closing time on Thursday.
Joan was outside helping an elderly customer carry her shopping while Lesley went into the staff room and opened their locker just before 4pm.
She went back on to the shop floor, but after their pair closed up for the day they realised their purses had gone.
When they watched CCTV footage back, they saw a man had entered the shop and appeared to be going upstairs, where books and other goods are for sale, before quickly turning back on himself, darting into the staff room and getting away with the two purses.
Lesley and Joan’s purses both contained their debit and credit cards.
But Joan’s also contained £25 and a photograph of her late dad and also of her nephew, Christopher Robson, who died of meningitis when he was just three-years-old more than 30 years ago.
It also contained three solid gold two pound coins, one for each of her children which she collected when they were babies.
“Those are all of sentimental value, I’ll never be able to replace them,” said devastated Joan, who lives in the Murray Street area and has volunteered for the hospice for three years.
“I just hope whoever it was has a thread of dignity and hands the photographs back.”
Lesley, who also lives in the Murray Street area and has volunteered for a year, said: “What kind of person comes into a charity shop looking to steal something?”
A Cleveland Police spokesman said officers are investigating the incident. Anyone with information should call the non-emergency 101 number.
l Football star supports hospice: Page 31