Saturday, 24 October 2009

Give with Care – Police Urge

Beware of bogus charity collectors– officers are warning as part of Operation Rogue Trader, cracking down on doorstep crime.

Officers have had a number of reports in areas including Bridgend, Swansea and Cardiff of genuine charity bags being stolen by bogus charity collectors, before the authorised collectors arrive.

There have also been instances of bogus bags or flyers, claiming to be from reputable charities, being left at people’s homes which are then collected and the donations sold for profit.

Now officers have teamed up with Consumer Direct and clothing collection agent Clothes Aid to tackle the scams and thefts by distributing 100,000 leaflets, urging residents to keep giving but be vigilant. Officers are also urging residents to report anything suspicious.

Clothes Aid collectors, who collect for charities including Noah’s Ark Appeal will be posting the leaflets through doors across South Wales alongside their charity bag drops.


The leaflet campaign is part of Operation Rogue Trader, a crackdown on doorstep crime including rogue traders and distraction burglars who target the elderly and vulnerable.

South Wales Police crime reduction officer DI Steve Trigg said: “This is just part of our drive to target door step crime including bogus collectors, rogue traders and distraction burglars who prey on the most vulnerable.

“Bogus charity collectors are not only stealing from residents but from the most vulnerable in our communities - the people genuine charities are striving to help.

“Our message is, please keep giving vital help to charities, but ‘Give with Care’ and check your donation is going to those in need.

“We have had reports of flyers or bags which mimic genuine charity bags being left at homes.

“We have also had a number of reports of bags left out for charities being stolen.

“We cannot comment on who is behind the specific South Wales cases.

“However, intelligence suggests that nationally organised crime gangs can be behind thefts of bags and that clothes and donations can be shipped overseas to be sold in Eastern European countries.


“We hope these leaflets will encourage people to keep giving but check donation bags are legitimate and report anything suspicious.

“Don’t let thieves steal the Welsh charitable spirit.”

Leaflets have already been posted in
Swansea and areas of Cardiff and more will be distributed across the force.

On Tuesday 13 October two cases were reported of charity bags intended for Noah’s Ark Appeal being taken from outside houses in John Street, Nantymoel,
Bridgend.

At around 9.45am, males in a white transit van were seen picking up the bags, before the genuine collectors Clothes Aid, arrived.

One male involved in one incident is described as wearing a navy jumper and navy trousers.

Officers are appealing for anyone with information about the incidents to come forward.

Officers are also appealing for information following a report that the driver of a white transit van was acting suspiciously in the Broadlands estate,
Bridgend, on the morning of Tuesday October 13, possibly studying charity collection bags. Nothing was reported stolen.

Michael Lomotey, Clothes Aid Campaigns Spokesperson and Head of Collection Protection, said: “We are saddened that thieves are targeting the good nature of the people of Wales, but we are really pleased that together with the police and Trading Standards we are tackling this crime. Moreover, working together with the authorities, Clothes Aid is often able to recover some of the stolen goods.

“Clothes Aid loses items that would be worth thousands of pounds to our charity partners so we’d like to appeal to members of the public to help and report anything suspicious to the police.

“Please keep giving; not only does it benefit charity, but it helps the environment too.”

Lyn Jones, The Noah’s Ark Appeal Chairman said:

“I find the rogue collectors disgraceful. They are robbing genuine collectors of the chance to raise funds for sick children, and help complete Phase 2 of the Children’s Hospital for Wales. We truly appreciate anyone who reports such activity. Please help us to keep treating your children and cut down on these appalling thieves.”

GIVE WITH CARE
When a donation bag or leaflet comes through your door:
  • Read the small print. Know where your donation is going. Check contact details, as they might be false.
  • Contact the Charity Commission helpline on 0845 300 0218 to check whether the collection is for, or on behalf of, a registered charity.
  • Contact your local authority to see if the collector has been licensed.
  • Be vigilant, check who picks up your bag and report anything suspicious.
  • Report any charity bag thefts to South Wales Police on the non emergency number 101 or call Consumer Direct for advice on 08454 040506
For advice visit the ‘Watch Out!’ section of the Consumer Direct website: www.consumerdirect.gov.uk


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