Doorstep thieves threatening 'life-saving care' in the North East by stealing air ambulance charity donations

Heartless thieves are costing a life-saving charity thousands of pounds by stealing donations left by supporters.
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The Great North Air Ambulance Service’s (GNAAS) recycling arm says it has seen a rise in the number of bags of clothing – left out to be collected by supporters – being stolen.

The trading company raises on average £15,000 a month from the scheme – the cost of three missions carried out by the charity’s critical care team.

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John Ballan, who manages the charity’s trading company said: “We really appreciate everyone who fills bags with unwanted clothing and other items to support GNAAS, but unfortunately, we have seen an increase in these bags being stolen.

John Ballan of the Great North Air Ambulance.John Ballan of the Great North Air Ambulance.
John Ballan of the Great North Air Ambulance.
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“There have been reports of people in unmarked vans picking up our bags which clearly display our name and logo and are obviously not intended for them."

He added: “Every time one of these bags is not picked up by our team, the charity is losing money, which could have been spent on providing life-saving care in region.”

To help combat the thefts, the trading company is offering a Monday to Saturday collection service where people can book in a pick up at a pre-arranged time.

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This service is available across the region and can be booked over the phone or the GNAAS’ Facebook page.

Mr Ballan added: “We visit different areas during the week to pick up the bags and all our vans are clearly identifiable with GNAAS branding.

"We’ve seen an increase in arranged collections since the pandemic as we can provide contact-free doorstep collections, and it also means that people don’t have to wait for a bag to be delivered and can use any container.”

In addition to collecting from individual homes, there are several supporters who host community collections at their homes, as well as locations such as business premises and village halls.

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Peter Harris, 71, from Murton, is just one of the supporters who arranges collections at his home.

He said: “When you think of the cost of fuel, you realise it’s worthwhile having big collections so they only have to drive to specific locations.”

To book in a pre-arranged collection or host a community collection point, call 01325 308 139 or message GNAAS’ Facebook page