RSPCA call for Hartlepool residents to be ‘nosy neighbours’ to catch charity bag thieves

RSPCA store manager Linda Smallwood who is appealing for help to catch bogus collectors.
RSPCA store manager Linda Smallwood who is appealing for help to catch bogus collectors.

A CHARITY shop boss is urging the public to be her eyes and ears in reporting bogus collectors.

Linda Smallwood, manager of the RSPCA charity shop in York Road, Hartlepool, says she is fed up of charity bags left out for collection going missing and into the hands of criminals.

She said she has reported previous incidents to the police, but that there is a greater chance of detection if she can provide officers with a vehicle registration number of the bogus drivers.

Mrs Smallwood said: “Like all charities, we are sick of having our bags stolen when they are put out for collection.

“We are asking people to be ‘nosy neighbours’ – when you get a charity coming round picking up, have a look to see who it is picking it up.”

She said the local branch, which also covers Peterlee and Stockton, puts out 1,000 bags each week but only too often, its drivers get there to find the bags have gone.

Mrs Smallwood said: “We put out 1,000 bags each week and we have lost the lot before.

“People have been ringing up saying they have items for us but when our driver gets there the bags are gone.

“If people look out and get the make and vehicle registration number then the police can act on it.
“If we do know a certain car was round and we had the registration, that would help all charities so much – we can phone the police and tell them.”
The RSPCA’s official collection van is white with a blue logo.

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “We would urge any organisation who believes they have been a victim of theft to report incidents to police as it allows us to fully investigate.”

Mrs Smallwood said residents don’t have to go to the police directly – if they call the shop, on (01429) 283218, staff will call the police.