Clothes Aid assists police with organised crime investigation
Charity collection service Clothes Aid has helped police prosecute a man for stealing clothing donated to charity banks.
By providing police with information surrounding the theft of charitable clothing donations across the country (largely by organised gangs), Derbyshire Police were able to secure convictions against fraudsters caught stealing charity bags, in a case that has been ongoing since 2010 has now seen three arrests.
The investigation came to a close on 9 May, when Derby Crown Court sentenced Arturas Krasaukas, 27, to 20 months in prison for ‘conspiracy to steal’.
He had originally been arrested in 2010 after being linked to a suspicious van in a Sainsbury’s car park in Buxton, Derbyshire. An inspection of the van uncovered a large amount of bags full of donated clothing, which he was not licensed to collect. A second van, traced to the same address, in Manchester, was searched by police and also contained a large number of stolen charity bags, full of clothes, some of which belonged to Clothes Aid.
Krasauskas left the country after he was released on bail, but was arrested again after re-entering the UK in March this year.
‘Don’t be deterred by the actions of these criminals’
Speaking after the sentencing, DC Gary Thomas of Derbyshire Constabulary, who led the investigation, commented: “Due to the advice given by Clothes Aid, police were able to investigate this in a much more focused manner concentrating efforts on prosecuting the ring leaders rather than the foot soldiers who are out stealing.
“Many forces deal with this type of theft by way of fixed penalty tickets or cautions for theft. Through our extensive enquiries nationwide it appears that Derbyshire Constabulary is one of the first forces to investigate this type of theft as organised crime. This approach was greatly assisted by the intelligence supplied by Clothes Aid.”
Krasauskas is the second man to be found guilty for this same offence; earlier this year Gintas Simkus, 40, was jailed for three years for conspiracy to steal and money laundering. Simkus denied both charges but was convicted by a jury at Derby Crown Court after a five-day trial.
Thomas added: “The knock-on effect of this type of crime is that it will discourage members of the public from donating their unwanted clothing, which is much needed, and can be the lifeblood of charities across the country. I would urge people to continue their good work helping both local and national charities and not be deterred by the actions of these criminals.”
Advice for charity bag donators
As such, Clothes Aid has issued the following advice to people wanting to donate to charity from their doorstep:
- always look for the Fundraising Standard Board’s (FRSB) ‘Give with Confidence’ tick logo;
- look for a registered charity number and, if in doubt, check on the Charity Commission website, www.charity-commission.gov.uk;
- look for a landline number and try calling it. If there is only a mobile number, this should raise suspicion;
- legally, charity bags must say how much they will give to charity per tonne. Look out for this statement; and
- all collectors, by law, have to have a license from local authorities before collecting in ay area. If you are in any doubt, contact your local council to confirm their presence.
Clothes Aid, which has so far raised over £8 million for some of the country’s most well-known charities, has said it will continue to work with the police and other agencies such as the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and Trading Standards (TSI) to tackle this type of crime.
Find out more about the problem of charity clothes theft.