Arrests made after ‘significant’ damage caused in suspected charity break-in

19 Jun 2024 News

By Chalabala, Adobe

Two people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into a suspected break-in at Gateshead FACT cancer charity.

Northumbria Police stated that a “significant amount of damage was caused to the premises in the incident” while a sum of money was also stolen from a cash register.

At around 9pm on 13 June, police received a report of two men trying to gain entry to a premises on Springwell Road in Wrekenton.

Officers responded and arrested two men, aged 30 and 34, after one was found hiding in a wall cavity, while the other was located on the roof of the property.

The BBC reports that founder Joanne Smith said this has resulted in the charity having to suspend operations for the first time in its history.

“We've never had to stop delivering services in 16 years,” Smith said. 

“Even in the pandemic we managed to keep going.”

Smith said she felt “numb and empty” and it was “heart-breaking” having to turn people away from the charity.

“What really hurt us was the damage to the items that directly support our service users, like wigs, prostheses and information leaflets,” she added.

The latest data filed with the Charity Commission shows the charity had an income of  £341,620 for the year ending 30 June 2023.

Two men charged with burglary

Following police investigations, the two men were charged with burglary.

The 30-year-old man appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on Friday 14 June. Following the hearing, he was released on conditional bail.

The 34-year-old man is due to appear before magistrates next month.

Detective constable Craig Austin, of Northumbria police’s serious organised and acquisitive crime team, said: “Following the report we received on Thursday evening, our officers immediately attended the scene.

“We’d like to thank those in the local area for their quick-thinking in contacting police so that we could respond.

“I’d also like to praise the officers for their prompt response, which led to us making arrests at the scene.

“I hope this sends out a strong message that we, as a Force, do not tolerate this type of behaviour and I would ask that anyone who sees anything suspicious continues to report this to police.”

Civil Society had contacted the charity for comment.

For more news, interviews, opinion and analysis about charities and the voluntary sector, sign up to receive the free Civil Society daily news bulletin here.


More on