Can you help police catch man behind spate of Wiltshire charity box thefts? (From This Is Wiltshire)
Can you help police catch man behind spate of Wiltshire charity box thefts?
An image of the man at The Farmhouse Inn, Southwick, who police want to speak to about charity box thefts across Wiltshire
Outraged fundraisers have urged people in Wiltshire to help catch a brazen thief who stole charity boxes from six pubs across the county.
Police are hunting for a man caught on CCTV targeting cancer and children’s charities in pubs in Southwick, Melksham and Devizes, who they believe is responsible for a total of six thefts.
A white, well-built man in his 30s was seen entering The Tavern on Melksham Market Place on Tuesday, June 10, at 2.30pm, where he cut the chain securing a collection box for the Bath Royal United Hospital Forever Friends Cancer Centre appeal, and left with it under his jacket.
It was later found empty in a nearby garden.
Zoe Tainton, community fundraiser at the Forever Friends appeal, said: “The initial reaction from staff when we found out this collection tin has been stolen was shock.
“So many volunteers in the Melksham area work so hard to help spread the word, and it is such a shame that this has been taken from us.”
The thief was next seen a day later in the Black Swan in Devizes, where he took a box collecting for the Devizes Opportunity Centre, which supports children with special needs. Video footage of the theft has been uploaded to Facebook, attracting numerous shocked comments.
On Saturday he resurfaced at The Farmhouse in Southwick just before 3.30pm, where he took a Macmillan Cancer Support tin left in the pub by local fundraiser Alan Cane.
He said: “I have supported Macmillan for a number of years, since I lost my wife Marian 10 years ago.
“It’s just wicked. People drop their change into those collection boxes in good faith. There is not a great deal of money in them, he’s not going to make a living out of it.
“It has to be stopped, people like that have no sense of decency.
“If anybody recognises the guy from the pictures then please get in touch with the police, and let’s catch this guy and bring him down.
“What he’s done is vile.”
Police have linked the thefts to three similar incidents in pubs in Tidworth and Burbage, and have asked anyone who recognises the man contact them on 101.
Footage of the suspect at the Black Swan, Devizes, has been posted on Facebook: