A Nelson family want the “scumbag” who stole their charity box to be held accountable for his actions.
Phillip and Beryl Thorn run Elizabeth Catering and The Baker’s Inn from a store on Waimea Rd with daughter Julie-Anne Thorn. All three were shocked when a thief made off with a collection box for children’s charity Variety about 3.30pm on Monday.
Mr Thorn has pledged to donate $100 to make up for what was stolen. The branch manager of food supplier Fresh Connection, Duke Climo, will also be making a donation.
“They struggle enough as it is, all those children’s charities do, and to have a scumbag like that take their money is unacceptable,” Mr Thorn said. “We’re not rich by any stretch of the imagination but I don’t mind donating $100 to them.”
Miss Thorn said the thief appeared to be of New Zealand European descent and in his mid-20s. She described him as well-dressed in a “really nice” grey dress shirt and carrying an expensive smartphone, but said when he tried to buy a $2 pie, his eftpos card was declined.
The man asked Miss Thorn if she could get the phone book so he could call his bank. The book was kept under the front counter so that staff did not have to leave the store to get it, but when Miss Thorn ducked into the kitchen to sort some dishes during the man’s phone call, he slid the charity collection box off its plastic holder and into a bag.
Miss Thorn said she and her parents had been preparing to empty the box for donation as it had been gathering coins since the start of this year.
“[The box] was really heavy because it was full, and he nearly dropped it.”
She did not think he had considered the possibility of security cameras, which captured the whole episode.
Variety chief executive Lorraine Taylor said the stolen donations had been destined for a national pool that benefited New Zealand children in need. They would have paid for warm winter clothes, school uniforms, doctor’s bills, extracurricular activities and more.
“It’s very disappointing when people steal from children, which is essentially what this person has done.
“The majority of people are very generous and it’s disappointing to think there are people out there who would take what amounts to a child’s money box.”
She said the donations from Mr Thorn and Mr Climo were “amazing”.
Police are working on leads on the case.