Heartless thieves have stolen almost £10,000 worth of items donated to a local hospice.
Hundreds of charity bags destined for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice have gone missing over the last couple of months from the doorsteps of homes in the region.
Supporters are now being urged to be vigilant by staff at the North Anston-based charity.
The hospice distributes plastic bags through letter boxes, which are filled with unwanted goods to be sold in the hospice’s charity shops.
They are then left out in the street for Bluebell Wood’s drivers to collect.
Madeline Oldale, marketing manager for Bluebell Wood, said staff first noticed they were getting fewer bags of donated goods back than usual, two months ago.
Since then the charity’s drivers have reported seeing other vans taking away the bagged items.
“In one area where we’d normally get 80 bags back we got just three,” said Madeline.
“It’s a widespread problem. It seems to be across Sheffield and Rotherham, wherever we do bag drops.”
“We don’t know who these people are. Other agents, who are not our drivers, are going along and taking them.”
“It’s distressing for us, and for the really kind people who want to donate to us.”
The hospice relies heavily on bag donations, with a bag of donated goods worth between £15 and £19 to the hospice.
Madeline believes as many as 500 bags could have been stolen - meaning £9,500 worth of donations have gone missing.
“We raise £820,000 a year through our shops. The majority of what we sell in our shops comes from donations,” she added.
Madeline stressed to supporters that the bags going to the hospice will only be collected by Bluebell Wood vans, which have recently been rebranded.
She added: “If people are having a clear out pre-Christmas and wanted to get rid of old kids toys, books, cds, clothes etc then if they can get together 10 bags or more, maybe with their friends or family, then we will come and pick them up. Or, they can take them into the Dinnington shop on Laughton Road.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman urged anyone seeing suspicious vehicles taking donations to write down the registration number, and report it.
It costs over £2.5million to run the hospice every year. It offers care and support to children and young adults with a shortened life expectancy, both in their homes and at the hospice.