TWO thieves who stole a charity collection tin in memory of a 22-year-old teaching assistant have been branded as ‘disgusting’.
Matt Boardman’s father said he was outraged a woman had taken the box from the counter of Bargain Booze in Livesey Branch Road, Blackburn, where his son had worked before his death.
The off-licence was collecting money in aid of Epilepsy Bereaved after Matt, who also worked at St Alban’s Primary School, Blackburn, died of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) in February.
CCTV footage clearly showed a dark-haired woman of about 30 with a walking stick, wearing a blue fleece and black tracksuit pants enter the shop.
She was closely followed by a tall man with a shaved head of about 40 who was wearing a black jacket and a shoulder bag.
While he asked the shop assistant about some wine, the woman, who had been circling the shop, grabbed the charity box and walked out.
She then ran away in the direction of Ewood. The man followed soon after without buying anything.
It is thought there was about £80 in the collection box.
A notice has now been put up in the shop, alongside a picture of the thief.
It reads: “A special thank you to the thief who stole the collection box that stood here.
“Hope you are proud of yourself.
“Apologies to all who had contributed to SUDEP, we do appreciate your help.”
Matt’s father Paul, of Prince lee Meadows, Darwen, said he was ‘appalled’ somebody had stolen the donated cash.
He said: “I am disgusted that somebody could stoop so low as to pinch this money.
“It isn’t just any charity box, it is personal and means a lot to a lot of people.
“I hope they get caught. It is outrageous.
“It doesn’t matter how much they took. Whether it was £1 or £1,000, it is disgusting.”
Bargain Booze store manager Jane Wright said staff had been left devastated after the theft at 2.45pm on Sunday.
She said: “Matt was a close friend to all the staff and knew a lot of our regular customers.
“It is infuriating and sickening that this could happen.”
Jane Hanna, director of Epilepsy Bereaved, said: “I would plead to the people who have taken this money to turn themselves in to the police.
“If they don’t, they are causing the family, who have suffered a terrible tragedy, even more pain.
“They are also taking away vital funds from Epilepsy Bereaved, which is working with bereaved familiesand researchers across the UK to prevent deaths.”
Police said they were investigating the incident and urged anyone with information to contact them on 101.