Thief poses as volunteer to steal money from Portsmouth charity shop

UPSET Chris Hammond, deputy manager of the Friends of the Animals charity shop, which had �240 stolen from the till by a volunteer.  Picture: Steve Reid (120976-003)
UPSET Chris Hammond, deputy manager of the Friends of the Animals charity shop, which had �240 stolen from the till by a volunteer. Picture: Steve Reid (120976-003)

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A THIEF posed as a charity shop volunteer to steal hundreds of pounds in takings from the till.

Cheryl Hart, who runs Friends Of The Animals charity shop in London Road, North End, believes a male volunteer emptied the till on his first day there and ran off with £240 in cash.

Mrs Hart said she left the man on his own so she could go and get stock from the back of the shop.

Moments before, Mrs Hart had been teaching him how to use the till after he had impressed her with his hard work filling shelves earlier that morning.

The volunteer had passed an interview with Mrs Hart two days before.

Police have since discovered the man supplied a false name and address.

Mrs Hart said: ‘I must have been gone for a few minutes and when I returned the man had gone. It dawned on me that something bad might have happened – so I opened the till and discovered all the £10 and £20 notes had been taken.

‘I couldn’t believe it. I feel let down and stupid because I put my trust in him. He had only told me that morning he thought it was wrong people stole from charity shops.’

The charity, which helps provide care for animals in the UK, has a number of stores that sells goods to raise money for its cause.

‘He seemed like a perfectly nice man in the interview,’ Mrs Hart added.

‘I didn’t think to check any photo identification because we didn’t normally do that.

‘But now I am going to be more vigilant about who I take on. People will now be asked for proper identification and have their picture taken by us. The money stolen could have really helped out the charity.’

Police are now on the hunt for the charity store volunteer.

He was white, between 40 and 50, 5ft 8in, slim, with short dark hair and reading glasses.

On the day he was wearing light-coloured jeans and a grey T-shirt, with a checked shirt and a grey cardigan over the top.

A spokeswoman for Hampshire Constabulary said: ‘It seems a man has used false details to gain a volunteer position at the store to enable him to steal money from the till.

‘We would appeal to anyone who may have witnessed the incident or could help us identify the man involved.’

Police have not ruled out the possibility that someone else could have stolen the cash after the volunteer left the store on Friday, March 16.

This is because there was no CCTV or any witnesses who saw the money being taken.

Anyone with information should contact PC Adam Ives at Cosham police station.