CALLOUS thieves raided a charity clothing bank and fled with stock valued at hundreds of pounds.
Thieves looted the Dee-tex textile bin at the Anchor Hotel, Saltney, in the early hours of yesterday and their haul included shoes, shirts, trousers, bags and towels.
Saltney-based Dee-tex sells secondhand clothing and donates the proceeds to charities across Flintshire and Chester, including Miles for Smiles.
Managing director Brian McManus thinks the stolen items will now be sold on market stalls, in car-boot sales and on eBay.
He said: “There has always been thefts from clothing banks but there has been a real increase since the recession hit.
“On this occasion a member of the public actually disturbed them and the thieves ran off.
“It looks like they have taken the good stuff, as bad as that sounds.”
Last April a homeless man died after trying to get clothes from a bin in Newham, East London.
Dainius Kankas, 26, became wedged in the hatch and suffocated when his own body weight pushed him head first into the bin.
Mr McManus added: “A couple of weeks ago we opened our bank at Sainsbury’s in Chester and found not a stitch of clothing, but a perfectly laid out pillow and quilt.
“Somebody had obviously been sleeping in there.”
Despite the danger, thefts are on the increase and now take place every week across the UK.
The average bag of donated clothes generates £7 for good causes, so stealing whole bins can net the thieves thousands of pounds a year, which should go to charity.
The British Heart Foundation say they lost out on £6 million last year because of thefts.
“It is a real shame that this happens,” added Mr McManus.
“These people are clearly desperate.”
A spokesman for North Wales Police said: “We can confirm that we had a report of an individual or individuals entering a clothing bank in Saltney and taking items from within between 7.30pm on Monday and 7.30am on Tuesday.”
Anyone with information can call North Wales Police on 101.
See full story in the Chester Leader