Charity Christmas donations taken as thieves strike Burnham Library again

James Hockaday

A ‘sick’ thief ransacked a Christmas shoebox collection for children and stole a charity box on Sunday in the second break-in at Burnham Library in five weeks.

The raider smashed a glass door at the library and tore open about 50 shoeboxes which the library was collecting for the charity Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child appeal.

The boxes of children’s toys were destined for poor youngsters in the UK and abroad.

Thames Valley Police says the break-in happened at about 10.20pm.

Library staff say the crook, who left shards of glass from the broken door all over the collection, stole donations for postage of about £3 from each of the boxes.

Police say the burglar was wearing a dark hooded top

About 50 boxes had been collected by Samaritan’s Purse earlier that day.

The thief also stole Friends of Burnham Library’s charity box from the reception, which was taken from the library during a separate break in on October 29.

Library manager Sue Lemon said she was ‘shocked’ when she was first told of the break-in on Monday.

She described whoever stole the money as ‘desperate’.

Friends of Burnham Library chairman Andrew Strathdee said on community website Streetlife: “What a very sad and inadequate person he must be to deprive poor children of their Christmas.

“His mother must be very proud.”

He later told the Express: “I was angry and upset seeing what he’d done.

“Stealing from needy children is just about the most sick thing you can do.”

Mr Strathdee said Friends of Burnham Library’s box will not be put back on the library’s front desk.

It is unlikely much was in the box given the recent break-in.

Mr Strathdee says the charity is likely to lose out on future donations because people often donate when passing the reception desk.

He added: “They’re stealing from the community in a sense because that’s where the money goes.”

Several Streetlife users have since commented on Mr Strathdee’s post saying they are packing replacement boxes.

Samaritans Purse regional manager Sara Artingstall said: “It is such a shame when we have an incident like this and fortunately it is very rare.

“Hopefully the gifts in the boxes that remain can still be salvaged so that it is not a total loss.”

Call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 with information.

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