IN TODAY’S climate of increasing high street crime, it seems even charities aren’t safe. The UK’s leading veterinary charity, PDSA, is counting the cost of damage to its shops and believes criminals see charities as ‘easy targets’.
Criminals in the North of England were responsible for a staggering 30% of incidents in PDSA’s 182 charity shops last year. The Charity’s Oldham shop was one of the worst hit, having been targeted repeatedly over the past eighteen months, closely followed by Peterlee, Sunderland and Blackpool. But several shops across the UK, including Banbury, were repeatedly targeted, whilst shops in Stevenage, Chatham, Stafford, Poole, Newport in Wales and Ilford have all been victims.
Crimes against the charity include taking the letter ‘P’ from a PDSA shop front to stealing one shop’s copper heating pipes.
But luckily for the charity’s 29 fundraising shops in Scotland, they are the least likely to be targeted by thieves and vandals, though the charity’s shops in Scotland did suffer 23 reported incidents in 2006, costing thousands of pounds.
This compared to a national high of 61 cases of shoplifting, break-ins and vandalism at PDSA’s 36 shops in the North of England. Unfortunately, PDSA shops in all areas of the UK were victims of crime at some point last year.
Banbury PDSA Shop Manager Marissa Silvester says: “We have repeatedly been targeted by vandals and thieves who have stolen stock and set fire to our bins. We even had the ‘P’ from our PDSA sign stolen earlier this year! This needless crime is disheartening for our volunteers, who give up their free time to help raise funds for pets in need of vets.”
Newport PDSA shop was broken into earlier this year. Shop Manager Maureen Murray says: “The shop was broken into in January. Nothing was taken but they kicked the door down and destroyed large amounts of stock. I couldn’t believe people would cause so much deliberate and mindless damage to a charity.
It is so disheartening when, on the whole, local people are extremely supportive, donating their unwanted items and volunteering for us. Judging by the figures, we’re extremely lucky not to be targeted more than once.”
PDSA’s 182 shops sell new goods and donated items to raise funds to provide free veterinary treatment for the sick and injured pets of people in need. The charity receives no government or lottery funding for its PetAid services. The shops are entirely dependant on the generosity of the public, both in terms of donations and the volunteers who help run them.
1. Banbury PDSA shop’s ‘P’ was stolen from the shop front.
2. Bramley PDSA shop’s copper heating pipes were stolen.
3. Vandals set fire to Greenock PDSA shop’s bins.
4. Christmas presents for Walsgrave PDSA shop volunteers were stolen in a break-in.
5. Bogus collectors stole bags of donations left outside supporters’ homes for Oldham PDSA shop.
6. A car crashed into Leyton PDSA shop’s window and drove off.
7. A collection box was stolen from Stafford PDSA shop’s counter.
8. Vandals smashed Brighton PDSA shop window and destroyed the display.
9. A painting of a horse during Gold Cup week was stolen from Cheltenham PDSA shop by shoplifters.
10. Donations left outside Peterlee, Long Eaton and Blackpool PDSA shop were stolen, ransacked and destroyed.