The owner of a Paihia store hit by a donation box thief is giving $250 to the charity to make sure sick kids don't miss on help as a result of the crime.

Around noon on Friday a man stole a Kidney Kids donation box containing up to $60 from the counter of the Paihia Four Square on Williams Rd.

A store worker recognised the man a short time later at another store and alerted a police officer who was helping at a nearby Covid-19 testing station. He then alerted an off-duty officer who was studying at Paihia police station.

The off-duty officer found the alleged thief and arrested him, then chased him across Paihia when he ran off. She followed him to a house where he was taken into custody.

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The Advocate understands he had spent most of the money on cigarettes and alcohol.

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The theft shocked Paihia Four Square owner-operator Scott Jackson, who said he would donate $250 to the charity to make sure it didn't end up out of pocket.

''We're a community store and our customers give to these boxes. We deal with theft — it comes with the territory of being a retailer — but when it's a charity that really cuts deep. It affects us more than normal,'' he said.

Jackson praised the "outstanding" police officers who he knew only as Paul and Pippa.

''Pippa especially needs credit. She was off duty but just jumped into action. She is a model of what a police officer should be.''

Kidney Kids chief executive Keith Mackenzie said he was grateful to Paihia Four Square, which was a long-term supporter of the charity, and to those who gave chase and caught the culprit.

The charity supported about 450 children and their families, 61 of whom lived in Northland.

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''You get very upset when you hear about incidents like this. It's hard to believe that anyone is that much of a lowlife to steal a donation box from a charity,'' Mackenzie said.

''I suppose they don't have any morals and don't understand the needs those kids have.''

The extra donation would be particularly valuable now because the charity's income had all but dried up during the Covid-19 lockdown and was not expected to recover for the next six months.

The charity had some money in reserve so it was able to continue its work supporting kidney kids and their families.

That was more important than ever because kidney kids were at greater risk from infections such as Covid-19.

''Anyone who has chronic kidney disease or has had a transplant, which means they're on immune-suppressant drugs for the rest of their lives, has to be extra cautious.''

Mackenzie said donation boxes were not the charity's biggest revenue stream but they were important and they helped keep the Kidney Kids name in the public eye.

■ Brummen Cooper, 27, appeared in the Whangārei District Court on Saturday charged with theft, escaping custody and possession of cannabis. He was allegedly also breaching his bail conditions. He was remanded in custody and is due to appear in the Kaikohe District Court by audio-visual link on May 26.

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