The police want to question a man who was caught on CCTV cameras removing charity collection tins from various shop counters.
In the past three months, the unidentified man has targeted several outlets in Hout Bay, including the Oakhurst Kwikspar, Hout Bay Superspar and Tip Top Dog & Cat Groomers.
CCTV footage shows the man distracts cashiers and then puts the charity tins in a bag while their backs are turned.
His sinister exploits were first noticed by Domestic Animal Abuse Group (DARG) fund-raiser Debra Buys.
“Doing my rounds in September it was noticed that four Darg cans on the counter at Oakhurst Spar were missing. We viewed the CCTV footage and found the man had stolen the cans,” she said.
“I reported this to the Hout Bay police, and a case of theft was opened. Then, on Friday December 2, I visited the Hout Bay Superspar and noticed a can was missing. I spoke to (Superspar owner) Simon Nimwegen, and he said they would check their CCTV footage. Pictures of the same man were subsequently featured on Facebook.”
Charity tins for Medical Emergency Transport and Rescue have also been taken.
Mr Nimwegen said he had resisted calls to chain down the tins. “I am very traditional in that I want to believe you can trust your customers. One individual is responsible for this, so I won’t be changing the way I operate. What I can promise you though, is if the man comes into the shop again he will be handcuffed immediately,” he said.
Oakhurst Kwikspar owner Paul Psaros described the man’s actions as “despicable”.
“Our queues are different from the Superspar in that they snake around. The CCTV footage showed that he distracted the cashier by asking them to fetch an item away from the cash point. Our cameras had caught someone else doing this previously, but it was not the same man,” he said.
In the September footage, the man can be seen looking up to the mezzanine area where the store’s offices are.
“He is just checking to see if there are any eyes on him,” Mr Psaros said.
He said the crime was “disgusting” because Darg was desperate for funding to keep its doors open, and the man was robbing them of much-needed cash.
Ms Buys said every cent was precious to Darg, so the “theft of these cans is very disappointing as it must be for the other charities involved”.
Hout Bay police spokesperson Colonel Khuthala Nebhisi confirmed the incident.
Hout Bay police confirmed that they were investigatng the case.