A bogus charity collector has been prosecuted after being caught by Trading Standards and Gwent Police without a valid licence.
Dalius Vaicekauskas, originally from Lithuania, but residing in Llanhilleth and later Fairview, Blackwood, was caught carrying out a door-to-door collection of clothing bags without a licence in Cwmfelinfach.
As well as collecting charity bags on behalf of the company Vaicekauskas was collecting for; he also took bags from outside residents’ homes for legitimate charities, including The Salvation Army and Barnardo’s.
Vaicekauskas was charged with the theft of the bags belonging to the charities. He appeared at Caerphilly Magistrates Court recently. He was given a 12 month Community Order and ordered to pay £85 costs.
Vaicekauskas’s scheme came to light when a resident complained to Trading Standards that she saw him putting the bags she had left out for The Salvation Army in his van. Gwent Police arrested Vaicekauskas and seized the bags. They were later returned to their rightful charities.
Cllr Rob Gough, cabinet member for public protection said: “Our Trading Standards team work tirelessly to bring offenders to justice, and this despicable crime meant that genuine charities could potentially have been affected financially, impacting on their ability to help and support those that genuinely need it.
“The advice our Trading Standards officers would give to residents is to ‘give with care’ – do not be put off giving to charity, but simply double check with the Charity Commission that collectors are working on behalf of legitimate charities”.
Risca Neighbourhood Policing Team Sergeant Simon Clark said: “Stealing charity bags for personal gain has become more widespread. We want to send out the strongest possible message that crimes of this nature will not be tolerated in Gwent.
“We would urge communities to be vigilant in ensuring that items left out for charities are collected by reliable representatives.
“The best way to ensure that deserving causes get the most benefit is if you can, take the goods yourself to the local charity shop or check the wording on the bag, if it claims to be collecting for a registered charity then by law it has to give the charity number.
“This can be checked out on the Charity Commission website at charitycommission.gov.uk or by phoning 0845 300 0218.”
To report concerns about charity collections, residents can also contact Trading Standards on 01495 235 291.