Heartless thieves steal charity van full of equipment destined for Ukraine refugees
The van was full of life-saving goods that were going to be given to Ukrainians in need
A group of heartless thieves stole a charity van full of essential items destined to go to Ukrainian refugees.
Tinned food, bandages, plasters, and sanitary products were amongst items stored in the van, which was stolen from outside an International Aid Trust store in Chorley, Lancashire on Sunday night.
It was also filled with around £1,000 worth of second-hand furniture, which was ready to be delivered to customers in order to raise money to support the crisis. This will now have to be refunded.
Reverend Bernard Cocker, CEO and founder of the charity, described the thieves as "very selfish" and said they were "taking advantage of the situation in Ukraine".
He said CCTV footage at 6.15pm showed two people in a small white van pulling up, with the vehicle gone just minutes later.
Cocker thinks the thieves cloned the electronic key to gain entry to the vehicle. All of the van’s keys were locked away inside the charity's premises.
Hundreds had responded to the charity's calls to support Ukrainian refugees in what Cocker described as a "phenomenal" effort.
The charity began in Ukraine over 30 years ago, and he said "it's never been easy".
Last week, the charity had between 50 and 80 volunteers at a warehouse sorting, packing, and loading trucks, as well as hundreds helping out across the country.
"And then you get two individuals that steal one of our vehicles," he said, "that's what really hurts."
Discussing the furniture that was snatched, furniture store manager Dean Higham said he reckons it was stolen to order.
He said: "They were away in a quick time and it doesn’t look like they did any damage to get into the van. Presumably, they don’t want the contents, so they will probably just dump them."
The manager described it as a "massive blow" that has really set them back - the van alone cost the charity £20,000.
"We are a charity, for goodness sake," Higham said, "We are reliant on donations of furniture that we can sell to raise money."
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