"What kind of person steals from a charity donation box?"

That's what a Rotorua woman is asking after one of hers was broken into and emptied.

A donation tin for Cuddle Cots Rotorua, a fundraising effort set up by 18-year-old Greagh Love, was broken into and money stolen while it sat at the counter of the Amohau St Columbus Coffee.

Miss Love found out about the theft when her mother visited the cafe on Monday and saw the tin open and empty.


When the owner of the store was alerted, an investigation was started and has since been handed over to the police.

"I was pretty shocked when I heard somebody had stolen the money, but I mostly felt bad for the people who made a donation to that tin in good faith that their money would be going to Cuddle Cots Rotorua," Miss Love said.

"What kind of person steals money from a charity donation box?"

It would not have been easy to open either because it was both glued and taped shut.


The Columbus Coffee donation tin was one of 10 dropped off at local businesses this month.

Miss Love has been fundraising since November, with the aim of buying two extra Cuddle Cots for Rotorua Hospital. She has since raised $3500.

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A Cuddle Cot is a cooling system that discreetly sits inside a bassinet, and allows families to keep their babies with them just that little bit longer after their death. Rotorua Hospital was gifted its first Cuddle Cot in May last year.

Her motivation comes from her own heartbreak at losing her firstborn baby to stillbirth when she was 16-years-old.

The tins are just one part of Miss Love's fundraising efforts, accompanying the regular sausage sizzles, lottery draws, photography sessions and garage sales she holds.

Rotorua police City Community Constable Peter Riordan said the investigation into the issue was ongoing.

"It appears a small amount of cash has been stolen and we are currently looking at CCTV footage from the store. Both the staff and owner have been very helpful during the investigation.

"The message to come out of this is charities leaving donation boxes in stores should make sure they are secure and regularly checked to reduce the chances of it being stolen."

Columbus Coffee general manager Peter Webster said they were "horrified" when they learned the theft had happened in one of their cafes.

"When the owner of the Rotorua franchise learned of the issue she immediately started conducting an investigation. The investigation has since been handed to the police and we are doing everything we can to support them."