Thieves in Manchester, England raided a coronavirus charity supply depot, stealing an estimated £10,000 worth donated items meant to be delivered to vulnerable people during the crisis.
Essential items such as food, diapers, and even children’s suncream were stolen during the robbery over the bank holiday weekend. The supplies had been gathered through donations to the Covaid-19 appeal charity that aims to help the less fortunate residents of the city.
The chair of the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity, Tim Heatley said that it was a “real kick in the teeth” when the charity workers opened the depot on Monday to discover that it was “ransacked”.
“We’ve been working 24/7 with our staff and volunteers and when we saw that there was a bank holiday coming up we thought it would great opportunity to have a bit of a break,” Heatley told the Evening Standard.
“Whilst it was closed for a couple of days we think a very organised gang of thieves broke in and systematically removed boxes of produce and equipment,” he said.
Heatley lamented that the criminals targeted high priced items in the robbery, saying that they were “clever” in that they went after products that were easy to re-sell.
“We’re hopeful that with the generosity of the Manchester public and businesses we will be able to get back to where we were,” he concluded.
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While crime overall has slumped in the UK during the national lockdown, thieves have used the crisis as an opportunity to profit by reselling items at inflated rates on the black market.
Last week, in the Manchester suburb of Salford, thieves stole 80,000 PPE masks meant to go to frontline medical staff and care homes for the elderly. The gang targeted high-quality n95 respirator worth an estimated £166,000 — while leaving lower value items behind.
“This is a particularly sickening crime when you consider that the PPE was intended for the NHS and for care home workers and at a time when we are trying to protect the NHS and one another against one common enemy in Covid-19,” said Det Insp Chris Mannion.
“Clearly there’s an open market there and there’s any number of ways that these people can sell on the goods stolen from here,” Mannion said.
Similar coronavirus thefts have occurred across the European continent, with thieves stealing 50,000 surgical masks from a hospital storage facility in Cologne, Germany in March.
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