Anger as shoplifters target charity shop supporting 800 elderly people in Leeds

Middleton Elderly Aid's charity shop in Middleton Park Road, Middleton.
Middleton Elderly Aid's charity shop in Middleton Park Road, Middleton.

Shoplifters are targeting a charity shop which supports elderly people in south Leeds to live independently.

Following a refit of Middleton Elderly Aid’s (MEA) charity shop in Middleton Park Road three weeks ago, thieves have begun snatching everything from clothes to computer games on a daily basis.

Dawn Austwick, the charity’s chief officer, says volunteers are finding up to 15 empty coat hangers a day, while boxes filled with electrical items are being regularly looted.

The spate of thefts come at a time when the expanding charity, which has 831 elderly members and supports 120 people per week, is hoping to open a permanent community hub in Middleton for over 60s in the coming weeks.

Ms Austwick said: “The money Middleton Elderly Aid raises – it isn’t a national charity, the money doesn’t get spent on admin – it gets spent on services for local people.

“Everything we do is subsidised by the funds we earn from the shop and grants, and this will have a knock-on effect on people that we support.”

She continued: “It was suggested we should get cameras but who would manage them? It shouldn’t be necessary for us to put CCTV in a charity shop.”

The thefts have coincided with the charity shop selling items it would normally auction on Ebay in the store itself, prompting visitors to come from further afield.

Ms Austwick, who believes locals are not to blame for the “diabolical” thefts, added: “We’ve had some nice support from the community, and that’s given our volunteers a bit of a lift knowing that others think it’s unacceptable.”

MEA was set up in 1989 with the aim of helping senior citizens to live independently.

Its services include home visits, coffee mornings, a lunch club, dance classes, baking, knitting and computer access groups as well as day trips and advice.

To get involved as a volunteer or service user, or for details visit facebook.com/middleton.elderlyaid or call 0113 2721050.

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