THIEVES have been branded the ‘lowest of the low’ after breaking into three shops and a library in a Sheffield suburb to steal charity boxes.
Three collection boxes - for Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, and the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal - were stolen from Totley Library on Baslow Road.
Totley Pharmacy, Totley Deli, and The Dore and Totley Veterinary Surgery were all also targeted - with the three businesses broken into overnight and the library hit during working hours.
Another Poppy Appeal box went from the pharmacy, the deli had a collection box for an epilepsy charity taken, and the veterinary surgery had boxes for two animal charities stolen along with a till and laptop computer.
A police probe was underway today into the break-ins and thefts.
Tajinder Singh, who owns Totley Pharmacy, said he will no longer keep collection boxes on his premises.
“It is disgusting that somebody is going around stealing charity boxes, especially those for the Poppy Appeal at this time of year when we have just had Remembrance Day,” he said.
“Whoever did this must have realised what time of year it was and that these boxes would be everywhere.
“I personally have now given a donation from my own pocket to the Poppy Appeal, based on what I thought would have been in the collection box, as I didn’t want the charity to lose out.
“But I’ve told the charity I won’t be able to have a tin next year and risk this happening again.
“Unfortunately I think more and more people will start saying the same - and it will be the charities who lose out.”
Martin Slater, who owns the deli, said: “I am really disappointed this has happened when all we were doing was trying to help others.
“It will make businesses think twice about having charity boxes - and it makes you think that whoever is doing this, stealing from charity, is the lowest of the low.”
Danii Booth, who works at the veterinary surgery, said she wants businesses in Sheffield to be aware of the break-ins and to keep charity boxes hidden out of sight.
“Whoever did this was determined to get in and smashed a huge pane of glass to get the boxes, but they also took our till and my laptop too,” she said.
“When we found out we were not the only ones to have been targeted we wanted to make others aware this is happening - people need to hide the boxes.
“It is the charities I feel sorry for. Even though there would only have been a few pounds in each box, it is the charities that are losing out.
“If someone was so desperate I wish they had knocked on our door and asked for £5 rather than causing £200 worth of damage by smashing the window.”
Totley library is run by Sheffield Council. Councillor Mick Rooney urged anyone with information to come forward.
“I am absolutely appalled someone would steal money from charities in this way,” he said.
“These collections were for Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, so the people who are really missing out here are the beneficiaries of the great work these charities do.
“I would urge anyone who has any knowledge of who is behind these thefts to contact the police with information.”
Call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.