North Yorkshire Police are appealing for information and warning business owners not to fall prey to bogus charity collectors.
The call comes following a suspected fraud from a business in Birstwith, near Harrogate, on Tuesday 2 August 2011.
A man claiming to represent The Children’s Charity contacted the firm by telephone on Monday 1 August 2011 and asked if they would be willing to make a donation. A member of staff agreed to make a contribution. The caller then arranged for it to be collected the following day.
The donation of £25 was collected on Tuesday 2 August by a man who left a receipt in a sealed envelope addressed to a member of staff. As the receipt was for a different amount to the agreed donation, a member of staff contacted the charity the man claimed to be representing. The charity informed them that they were unaware of this collection and explained that they do not use direct collections as a method of fundraising.
The suspect who collected the money is white, aged between 30 and 40 with a stocky build. He arrived in a black Ford hatchback car.
PC Bill Hickson, of Pateley Bridge Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “This is a truly dreadful crime. The thief has not just stolen from the firm who were generous enough to make a donation, but also from vulnerable children who the money should have been used to benefit.
“I believe that there may well be other companies who have been approached and given money to this man, fully believing that the funds would go to a deserving cause and not simply lining the pockets of a callous thief.
“If you have been approached to donate money in this way, even if you haven’t handed any money over, I ask that you contact the police straight away.
“I would also like to speak to anyone who can help to identify the man responsible and ask they get in touch as a matter of urgency.”
PC Hickson added: “I would also like to remind people to check the authenticity of anyone claiming to collect on behalf of charities. A genuine collector will not mind if you take time to check they are working for the charity they are representing.”
If you can assist with this investigation please contact PC Bill Hickson at Pateley Bridge police station on 0845 60 60 24 7 quoting reference number 12110129501. Or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.