Charity box thief caught on camera

By Mike Dinsdale -

A brazen thief who allegedly swiped a hospice charity box has been caught on CCTV.

Police have been called in after the North Haven Hospice box was stolen from Steve Haywood Master Jeweller at Whangarei's Town Basin earlier this month.

Mr Haywood said he was distracted by a woman browsing when a man who came into his store about 11.45am on October 4 stole the cash-filled box.

"It's pretty low to do that ... one of the lowest possible things you could do."

The suspect, who was wearing distinctive shorts and a black hoody with a green design on the back, had entered the shop behind the woman. The man can be seen on security footage taking a clear perspex Hospice box, which contained a $50 note, a $20 note, a few $5 notes and lots of silver and gold coins.

"I do a bit of work for free, like cleaning people's jewellery or little fixes and ask them to put something in the Hospice box.

A week or so before a customer had put that $50 note in there," he said.

After the man and woman had left he had noticed the box gone and checked the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage. Mr Haywood has sent the CCTV images to business contacts and put them up on Facebook.

North Haven Hospice funding development and communications manager Hannah Blake said it was hard enough for the organisation, which provides palliative care, to compete for the limited charity dollar available without the theft of donations.

"We rely on every dollar we get. Every dollar is really precious and keeps the services we offer free and those boxes provide about $7500 a year," Ms Blake said. "It's disheartening when this happens. The vast majority of people support us, but it's sad there is a small minority who are prepared to do this."

A police spokeswoman urged anybody who knew the man or woman to contact Whangarei police on 09 4304500 or anonymously CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.

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