A PENSIONER is appealing for charitable Wearsiders to be wary of charity bag thieves.
Yvonne Sullivan, a retired GP practice manager from Barnes, in Sunderland says she was disgusted after a bag she had left for charity was stolen from outside her home.
Because her donated goods did not fit in the bags provided by the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), she had arranged for the charity to collect a bin bag from outside her home which had been clearly marked.
But just 10 minutes after leaving the bag outside her house in Cortina Avenue, it was stolen.
She said: “When I have a large bag that doesn’t fit into the size issued I arrange for it to be picked up through head office. When it’s been collected they always put a note through the door to let me know.
“When the van arrived to collect the bag I had to explain that the bag full of expensive and perfect clothing had been taken.
“It was clearly marked for the air ambulance, which is a hell of a charity to support. I don’t like to think of goods going to some other destination because of those thieves.
“You hear about these charity- bag drive-bys, but you never think it will happen to you.”
She added: “GNAAS always acknowledge pick-ups with a card through your door. Other charities should follow suit – that’s the only way we can find out if the bags have been stolen and expose these thieves.”
The charity says it is losing about £5,000 a week through theft.
Steve Walton, director of the Great North Air Ambulance Service Trading Company, which makes the collections, said: “The problem is widespread both in the North-East and in Cumbria where we also operate. Because 100 per cent of our profit goes to the charity, it is the helicopters and their crews which this is impacting upon.
“We would advise people not to leave their bags out too early, although we realise this is sometimes unavoidable.
“Our teams are always in GNAAS-branded vans and all carry identification, which they will be happy to show anyone who asks.
“We can also arrange to knock on the door to collect, which ensures that the donation is going us.
“After every collection we always leave a thank-you note as well, so if your bag has gone but there is no note, it has been taken by an unauthorised collector.”
* To contact the GNAAS Trading Company, tel. 01325 308139.