Heartless Thief Stole Cabinet From Outside Charity Shop

PUBLISHED: 13:30 06 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:08 04 May 2010

THEY say that charity begins at home - but heartless thief Dale Curtis tried to cheat a charity in a bid to furnish his home. He spotted a bedside table that had been left outside a Littleport charity shop - and helped himself to the donated item, loading

THEY say that charity begins at home - but heartless thief Dale Curtis tried to cheat a charity in a bid to furnish his home.

He spotted a bedside table that had been left outside a Littleport charity shop - and helped himself to the donated item, loading it into a friend's car.

But a vigilant motorist spotted Curtis and his friend outside the Branching Out store in the High Street, and alerted staff when he later realised the bedside cabinet was missing.

Appearing before Ely magistrates on Thursday, 41-year-old Curtis, of Ely Road, Littleport, admitted stealing the cabinet on September 27. He was given a 12-month conditional discharge.

Branching Out is a charity that works with and supports people with mild and challenging learning disabilities and difficulties. It has four charity shops, a workshop, market garden and recycling department.

Most of the stock at the charity's shop in Littleport High Street is donated; and when it is closed items are left in the doorway, to be sorted by staff at a later date, the court heard from prosecutor Laura Mardell.

On September 27, Philip Malkin saw a car parked outside the shop, and two men in the doorway looking at items. He recorded the car's number plate details, and when he realised furniture was missing, he contacted shop staff.

When arrested, Curtis admitted taking the cabinet after a friend gave him a lift into town. He returned the cabinet a couple of days later.

"This was an impulsive offence, he was going past the store and saw the items in the doorway," explained solicitor Jacqui Baldwin.

"He asked his friend to stop. He saw the cabinet; he fancied it for his home, so took it. It was foolish, and something he very much regrets.

"Two days later he took the cabinet back, and left it in the doorway where he found it.

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