A publican has been left devastated after thieves stole £5,000 raised for charity using a wheelie bin to conceal their swag.
Regulars at the Black Horse pub off Reckleford have been fundraising for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance for the last year by collecting cash in an old water cooler dispenser.
But the haul went missing from the bar following last week’s Bank Holiday.
It is believed a group of men used a wheelie bin from the nearby Holy Ghost Catholic Church to make off with haul after entering the pub prior to it opening on Wednesday.
Landlord Andy Gurzynski, 50, has been left deeply upset by the theft.
He said: “It is absolutely gut-wrenching. I am devastated for my regulars and the charity.
“It is estimated there was about £5,000 in the container and we were so close to it being full and handing it over.
“We were going to have a party to celebrate and everything.
“We first noticed it had gone when the cigarette dispenser man came to top up the machine. Normally we have to move the dispenser so he can get to the machine but it had gone.
“When I found out I went down to the garage and a lady told me she had seen three men pushing a wheelie bin down the road. I later found out the church had their bin go missing.
“I can’t believe these lowlifes would do what they have done.
“They are nothing but scum of the earth. They had to go past my cash machine, hundreds of pounds worth of spirits at the bar and other charity collection tins but ignored them all.
“They knew what they had come for.
“It was so heavy that it must have taken several to carry it. It is a massive dead weight. The amount we had raised could help cover the air ambulance’s operations for a day.
“Let’s hope those who stole this never require the services of an air ambulance that is unable to get to them because it doesn’t have enough money to operate.”
Police have appealed for witnesses or for those with information to contact them.
A spokesman said: “We were called to a report of a theft of a large water bottle containing money from a public house in Yeovil.
“It is believed to have been taken between Monday, September 27, and Wednesday, September 29.
“Investigations are under way to identify the culprit or culprits.
“Members of the public can contact the police on the non-emergency number 101 citing crime reference number 94472/12.”
The air ambulance costs around £1.4m a year to run – approximately £3,800 a day.
The charity receives no funding from the Government or the National Lottery and relies wholly on donations.
For details go to www.dsairambulance.org.uk.