HEARTLESS thieves have stolen more than £9,500 worth of items donated to a South Yorkshire hospice which cares for some of the sickest children in the region.
Staff at Bluebell Wood Hospice in North Anston are urging their supporters to be vigilant because hundreds of charity bags have gone missing.
The hospice, which has seven charity shops dotted across the region, distributes plastic bags through letter boxes.
The bags are filled with unwanted goods to be sold in the hospice’s charity shops and left out on the street for Bluebell Wood’s drivers to collect.
Madeline Oldale, marketing manager for Bluebell Wood, said staff first noticed they were getting fewer bags of donated goods back than usual, two months ago.
Since then the charity’s drivers have reported seeing other vans taking away the bagged items.
“In one area where we’d normally get 80 bags back we got just three.
“It’s a widespread problem. We don’t know who these people are. Other agents, who are not our drivers, are going along and taking them.
“It’s distressing for us, and for the really kind people who want to donate to us.”
The hospice relies heavily on bag donations.
Madeline said: “We raise £820,000 a year through our shops. The majority of what we sell in our shops comes from donations.”
A bag of donated goods is worth between £15 and £19 to the hospice.
Madeline believes as many as 500 bags could have been stolen - meaning £9,500 worth of donations have gone missing.
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman urged anyone seeing suspicious vehicles taking donations to write down the registration number, and report it.