A ‘HEARTLESS’ thief snatched a collection tin full of donations made to the East Lancashire Hospice.

The theft happened as staff were busy working and helping customers at The Beechwood Garden Centre, in Blackburn.

The thief was captured on CCTV making his way into the centre before looking around and then hiding the silver plastic box, which was full with change, up his shirt.

He left and headed in the direction of Fishmoor Drive and Blackburn town centre.

Barbara Gaynor, who works at the Roman Road store, said she noticed the tin was gone when she came back into the shop area.

She said: “It is just heartless when you think the money was for charity.

“We do not know how much money was in the tin, but that does not matter.”

Sharon Crymble, fundraising manager at the East Lancashire Hospice, added: “It is really upsetting to hear this because people do not really think about what they are stealing.

“They do not realise the time and effort that goes into raising the money and what it is for.

“It is for treating local people who could be living next door, and taking that money can affect their care.

A police investigation has been launched and detectives have released a picture of a man they would like to speak to in connection with the theft, which happened around 10.30am on July 6. He is described as white, in his late 30s to early 40s and was wearing a checked shirt, black jeans and Adidas trainers with a white sole. The man also had black hair which was closely shaven at the sides.

Sgt Paul Gaynor, from the target team, appealed for any witnesses to come forward.

He said: “This was a box that was collecting for the East Lancashire Hospice and it was pretty full.

“This was a nasty thing to do. If anybody recognises the man in the picture, get in touch with me.”

Anybody with information should call police on 101 quoting crime reference EA1417062 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.