I am writing to you as a local Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) candidate for the Devon and Cornwall. If elected, my role will be to ensure the policing needs of Devon and Cornwall community are met as effectively as possible. As part of this new role I am taking the British Heart Foundation (BHF) pledge to tackle charity bag fraud and theft, if elected.
It has come to my attention that BHF Shops and other charity shops are increasingly becoming the victim of charity bag theft, with organised crime gangs targeting bags of second-hand clothing left outside Devon and Cornwall residents’ homes for collection. Some criminals are also setting up their own unregistered or fake charities to mislead people into making donations using fraudulent charity bags.
In 2011/2012 BHF Shops reported 241 incidents of theft of donated charity bags from doorsteps but we believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. Stolen charity bag and fraudulent collections cost UK charities an estimated £15million per year.
The money raised from BHF Shops house-to-house collections goes to vital research into the prevention and treatment of heart disease, support for people living with heart disease and campaigning for change. BHF Shops sell 90,000 items everyday so stock really is the life blood of the Shops, without donations they wouldn’t be able to raise vital money to fund life-saving work.
· As part of the BHF pledge to tackle charity bag fraud and theft I will devise a strategy to tackle it, which will include providing guidance to staff and advice to the public, whilst working with national fraud and crime agencies
· Highlight my commitment in my Police and Crime Plan and report on progress annually.
You can help charities like the BHF to fight charity bag fraud and theft by donating directly to your local Shop. You can also check that a collection is legitimate – BHF collection vans display BHF logos and all operatives carry ID cards. It’s all important that all householders in Devon and Cornwall report any suspicious activity in regards to charity bag theft to the police immediately.
If you would like to know more details about this pledge or any others I have made as a local Police and Crime Commissioner candidate, please do get in touch. The elections for this new role are on the 15th November – don’t forget to vote!