Crimes against fashion

Charity clothing bankPolice are developing a national strategy to help reduce charity collection crimes. A trebling in the price of used clothing over the past three years has caused a rise in thefts by organised criminals, who are thought to be selling the clothes in Eastern Europe.

A tonne of textiles now goes for £600, as opposed to £200 in 2008, so thieves are emptying charity clothes banks – worth £150 to £200 each – before volunteers can collect donations. Items left outside shops are also being targeted, and some organisations are making bogus doorstep appeals posing as charities. The crimes come at a time when donations to charity shops have dropped by 10 per cent – because of the recession, people are moving house less frequently and holding onto clothes for longer.

The British Heart Foundation says it lost out on £3 million last year, and fears that figure could double this year. Retail Director Mike Lucas said: “Stealing stock that is intended for our charity is akin to robbing people with heart conditions of a better quality of life.”