A kind-hearted firm has been left gobsmacked after a heartless thief stole a charity box raising money for a new community defibrillator.
Scott Woodhead, director of Sports Physio UK based in Oldham, was installing new blinds in the upstairs of the shop last week, when he asked his co-worker to give him a hand.
As the pair worked upstairs, a man and a woman walked past, with CCTV footage showing the pair peering into the window, before walking into the store.
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In just 40 seconds, the man can be seen staring right at one of the security cameras as he pulls a tool from his bag, cutting the chain attached to the charity box on the counter and slipping it into his pocket.
Another camera angle shows the woman with him peering up the stairs, leaving the store as soon as the box is tucked away.
Boss Scott made it downstairs in time to see the man trying to slip out of the shop after his accomplice, and was instantly suspicious due to the short amount of time they’d spent in the premises.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News he said: “I was in on my day off putting new blinds up and I asked one of my admin staff to give me a hand - it’s a two person job.
“She, on my instruction, just pulled the door to, if anyone came in we could just come down, and I was keeping an eye on the cameras so I saw them come in.
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“As I went down they were coming out, something didn’t feel right so I asked what they were after and he said ‘oh it’s my Mrs who wanted you, every time she comes in there’s never anyone in’ which is a weird thing to say when I’m stood there so I went and popped my head out.
“She kept saying ‘it doesn’t matter you’re never here’ so I let him go and went to have a look inside.”
Even after speaking with the pair, Scott couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong, and went back upstairs to check the CCTV, where he watched the man pinch around £120 raised for a new community defibrillator.
The firm had only recently put £96 into the tin, raised from giving free post-race massages to competitors at the Rochdale Half Marathon.
Members of staff give up their free time to attend races across the region, offering their services for free to raise awareness of the need for defibrillators, with pots to collect donations.
Each defibrillator costs over £1,000 to purchase, meaning the firm was more than 10% of the way towards their target.
Scott added: “It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth, we did go out looking for him and someone saw him getting on a tram towards Rochdale but we weren’t able to find him.
“It’s just horrible, there’s probably about £120 which to some people is a lot, to others it’s not much, but it’s about ten percent closer to us being able to fund another defibrillator.
“If we were to go out and say ‘this has happened can you all please put a bit of cash in to help us out’ then people would but we shouldn’t have to.
“It’ll take us another six months of our time to raise that again, which is then another six months before we can put another life saving piece of equipment on the streets.
“It’s frustrating, annoying, and I’m angry too.”
So far, the firm has funded two defibrillators, one outside the shop and another outside a nearby gym.
Scott has accepted he won’t be able to recuperate the money lost, but hopes that future fundraising events will be just as successful to bring the team closer to their goal.
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “Police were called around 3.15pm on Friday 15 October to a report that a man and a woman had stolen a charity box from a business premises on Market Street, Shaw.
“The two are then believed to have boarded a tram towards Rochdale.
“No arrests have been made.”
Any information can be passed to police by contacting 101 and quoting incident 1942 of October 15, or by calling the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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