Solent Diabetes Association charity shop in Gosport hit by callous thieves who steal £400 from safe

CALLOUS thieves have stolen £400 from a charity shop that helps sick people in Portsmouth.

Thursday, 29th October 2020, 7:00 am
Solent Diabetes Association in High Street. Manager Sam Memmott and shop volunteer, Cecilia WindeBank

The theft, which took place on Tuesday, October 20, has left volunteers shaken - and put the charity in financial turmoil.

The cash was taken from the Solent Diabetes Association charity shop in High Street, Gosport.

It is believed that the shop was targeted by criminals working together – as they hit when the shop manager had left the shop floor and used distraction techniques to occupy the sole volunteer while money was taken from a safe out the back.

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Shop manager Sam Memmott, from Alverstoke, said: ‘It is despicable that someone would take from us. We are only just bouncing back from lockdown. It was three days worth of takings. It means a lot to us, as we are a local charity this means that someone will not be paid - and someone will not get the help they need.'

Sam, 34, said the shop was facing other challenges too, such as adapting to new Covid regulations – and only four weeks ago had its window broken, which it cannot afford to get fixed.

Even claiming on insurance would see the shop have to pay out an excess fee that it simply cannot afford, Sam said.

Solent Diabetes Association in High Street Gosport. Manager Sam Memmott and shop volunteer, Cecilia WindeBank

She added: ‘I cannot stand any kind of theft but this is the absolute lowest of the low. How anyone can steal money from somewhere that is helping local sick people is beyond me.

‘We are not a big national charity or business, we have just two shops and our association covers this area, we don’t have thousands of pounds in a back-up bank account to cover things like this.

‘Most of the people here are volunteers. It may not seem like a lot of money to some people but to us it’s vital. And with the cost of fixing our window too, it is a very challenging time.’

Solent Diabetes Association in High Street Gosport

The Solent Diabetes Association was set up in 2007 to help people in Portsmouth and south east Hampshire with diabetes. The money it raises goes to providing relief and welfare, promoting research and increasing public awareness. It works closely with Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.

Its main source of income is from its two shops; in West Street, Fareham, and Gosport.

Chairman Paul Bowers said: ‘The fact is that this was £400 in cash that we had raised to help people with diabetes. It is money that will help people who are suffering. It is local people that are really being hit by this.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage condemned the theft.

She said: ‘I’m shocked and saddened to hear that the SDA has had £400 stolen from its Gosport store. This is an appalling act that goes against our strong and resilient local community spirit - my thoughts are with any staff members or customers who were present at the time.’

Sam said she hoped that highlighting the theft would encourage people to show their support for the store by visiting, buying goods and making donations of good quality items.

She added: ‘We are now tightening our security, we cannot afford for this to happen again.’

A spokesman from Hampshire Constabulary said: ‘The incident took place between 9.30am and 12.50pm on October 20. The suspect or suspects have entered into the back of the shop in the High Street, Gosport, and got into the safe, taking a quantity of cash. If anyone has any information about this crime, please get in touch by calling 101 and quoting reference 44200407800. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.’

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