Thief targeted charity boxes in month-long spree

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VICTIMS of a thief who targeted charity collection boxes have branded him as ‘disgusting’.

Lee White has been jailed for four months after admitting nine counts of theft, which included six charity boxes and three tip jars from cafes.

The 32-year-old, who gave his address as being of no fixed abode at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court, also admitted stealing a handbag, having a pair of scissors for use in connection with theft, and helping in the disposal of stolen goods.

It is not known how much money was stolen during the month-long spree and there was no order for him to pay any compensation.

A tip jar and a box for The Rowans Hospice were the first to be stolen, from Le Cafe Parisien in Lord Montgomery Way in Portsmouth on February 27

Fiona Gicquel, the cafe’s general manager, said: ‘He must be very desperate, but to steal a charity box is such a shame.

‘We had him on CCTV, you could see it was clearly a tactic that worked for him and something he had decided to do in advance. Taking the tips is one thing, but to take a charity box is another. The Rowans is our charity as a business, so everyone here was gutted.’

The Osprey fish and chip shop in Highland Road had a box for the Gurkha Welfare Trust swiped on March 9. The shop has been collecting for the trust since 2008 and has raised nearly £2,000 from its charity box.

Staff member Jasmine Pelly said: ‘He got off lightly with just four months.

‘I would have liked him to pay some compensation. They collect the box every month, and it was towards the end of the month so it was pretty full.

‘It is a bit upsetting because it’s taking money from people who are sick, isn’t it?

‘The box is back there, but we’ve got it chained down now.’

And Ashleigh Sight Care opticians in Fratton Road, Fratton, had a box for the Association for the Blind taken on March 11.

A member of staff, who did not want to be named, said: ‘It’s disgusting. How low can you get to steal from charity? It’s horrendous. You can’t trust people, which is very sad.’

Also stolen were an RNLI box from the Meon Valley Pub on Meon Road, a Marie Curie box from Lucile’s in Marmion Road, a box for the Portsmouth Association for the Blind from the Lawrence Arms in Lawrence Road, and a tip box from the Tenth Hole Tea Rooms on Eastern Parade, all in Southsea, and a tip box from Cafe Nut in London Road in North End, Portsmouth.