Cancer charity shop in seaside town is forced to close after heartless shoplifters nicked items from clothes to ashtrays amid spate of thefts

A cancer charity shop in a seaside town has been forced to close after it was targeted by heartless shoplifters.

The Chemotherapy Cancer Project in Herne Bay, Kent is set to shut its doors at the end of August after a spate of thefts which has seen a variety of items, from clothes to ashtrays, stolen from the business.

The store has also struggled with a decrease in donations and the dominance of larger charities.

The charity shop’s manager Graeme Sergeant, 70, said that shoplifting was a widespread issue in the area.

‘You wouldn’t believe what people nick,’ he said. ‘You wouldn’t think they’d rob charity shops, but they do.

cancer charity shop in seaside town is forced to close after heartless shoplifters nicked items from clothes to ashtrays amid spate of thefts

The Chemotherapy Cancer Project in Herne Bay, Kent has been forced to close after it was targeted by heartless shoplifters. The charity shop’s manager Graeme Sergeant (pictured, right), 70, said that shoplifting was a widespread issue in the area

‘Everyone across Herne Bay is suffering from shoplifting. It’s terrible.

‘I mean, who nicks a stopper out of a decanter? Who fills a van with four or five pieces of clothes when they’re buying one – or not buying anything?’

Mr Sergeant, who is a retired engineer, added that people had the false impression that charities did not need to be run like other businesses.

‘We had someone say, “Well you don’t pay for nothing” but we do,’ he said.

‘We pay the same bills as any normal business and it all adds up.

‘If you’re not getting the income in or someone’s walking off with some of that income, you can’t pay your bills.’

The manager’s wife Lizzie, 67, who is a volunteer at the charity shop, now has grade four cancer which has also contributed to the closure of the business.

Mr Sergeant, who has been with his wife for 51 years, said: ‘Unfortunately, donation-wise, across Herne Bay the little charities are not getting the donations.

‘Secondly, my wife has grade four cancer and unfortunately the pain’s getting worse.

‘She’s not well enough to participate in the running of the shop because we have a complete lack of volunteers.

‘So I’ve had to take the decision mainly because of the donation side but the second part is I’ve got to spend more time with my wife. She needs me now.’

People have also been donating less recently, thanks to the cost of living crisis, and the 70-year-old revealed that a recent collection gathered just £34.

Mr Sergeant also claimed that for every ‘ten donations’ locally larger charities, such as Maya’s Community Support Centre and Free Shop, were receiving ‘eight or nine’ with the Chemotherapy Cancer Project getting ‘maybe one’.

The Salvation Army has agreed to take over the store’s café as well as the drop-in sessions it runs for those undergoing chemotherapy.

The distraught manager said that, although this was good news, he still leaves ‘with a heavy heart’.

cancer charity shop in seaside town is forced to close after heartless shoplifters nicked items from clothes to ashtrays amid spate of thefts

The manager’s wife Lizzie, 67, who is a volunteer at the charity shop (pictured), now has grade four cancer which has also contributed to the closure of the business

Mr Sergeant said: ‘It does choke me up because I started it, I’ve seen it grow and it’s now at a position where it can continue to grow thankfully.

‘When I finally close the door I must admit I’ll probably shed a few tears because I get quite emotional now even just thinking about it.’

The announcement of the beloved charity shop’s closure has led to widespread condemnation on social media of the thieves who targeted it.

MK65 wrote: ‘Not wishing cancer on anyone but I hope that the thieves have need for this charity’s services in the future because thanks to their actions now, the service won’t be available for them.’

Onion Kilt said: ‘Seen it first hand one day, parked in front of Pilgrims Hospice Shop in Dover – woman walks by, notices goods in front of the shop, with sign asking for donation inside, she helped herself to a large glass ashtray and walked away.

‘Some people just can’t be trusted.’

Elvis4Ever said: ‘A shop is a shop to thieves. Charity shop or otherwise, they don’t care!’

Kentish Finest added: ‘Shop lifting is ubiquitous nowadays, we recently saw a group of teenagers just pile into a well known shop and do a ‘supermarket sweep’ in broad daylight.

‘This is so common nowadays and people are so brazen about it. We have turned into the Wild West it seems.’

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