EVIDENTLY stealing charity collection boxes from shops and cafes is old hat. Apparently, the trend is to break into charity shops. And once in the thieves unconscionably ransack the place for cash.

The raid on the Sue Ryder Manorlands charity shop in Keighley's Cavendish Street is a particularly heartless example . After breaking open the safe and taking about £2,000 this is what the thieves did next, according to shop manager Jackie Burke:-

"They ripped out the safe and smashed the desk, drawers and cupboards. The office was just wrecked. The cost of the damage will probably run into about £5,000.

"It's absolutely sickening. This is all the money that goes to providing care at Manorlands. People who do this sort of thing have no feelings."

You'd think burglars didn't have friends and relatives who suffered from seriously debilitating or terminal illness, who depended on help from charities funded by individual donations and public-spirited events. Surely there are some thefts that a self-respecting blagger would not do?

Detective Inspector Richard Partis, from Bradford Police's Neighbourhood Investigations Department, said: "That's a mistaken belief, that thieves wouldn't do something. They would do everything - stealing off old women, taking an old lady's life savings.

"Stealing from charity shops is not something that happens every day, not something we have as a particular problem, we might have three or four a year - people stealing charity boxes. You will find that boxes are chained to the counter now.

"It's opportunistic. A thief goes into a shop, sees a box on a counter and makes off with it. It's one of those crimes that happens from time to time. It's a rare event for a charity shop to be broken into."

But it happened in March this year. The Bingley Sue Ryder shop was broken into overnight. The thieves had a go at the front door, then chiselled their way in through the back door. They stole £150 in ticket money for a VIP fund-raising event for the Manorlands hospice, £50 from the till, and various items on display. They also left the shop with a prospective bill of more than £1,000 to repair the doors.

If any of the thieves happen to be glancing at this they might like to know something about Sue Ryder, who was a real person not a corporation.

She was born 90 years ago, one of nine children to a farming couple who lived near Leeds. From an early age she took an interest in the plight of the poor, the dispossessed.

She was a patriot who, during World War 2, worked for Special Operations Overseas and was a member of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. She's best known for helping refugees and inmates of concentration camps.

After the war she concentrated on helping prisoners in Eastern Europe, setting up centres of care for the sick and rehabilitation for youngsters jailed for criminal offences.

She believed that if given good support offenders would stay out of trouble. She understood that without jobs the boys would return to old ways. By giving them the responsibility of building and maintaining their own home, she gave them a purpose.

To them Sue Ryder was 'Sister Sue' if she was of their generation. To those even younger she was 'Mama Sue'.

She founded care homes in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. These were places for with incurable diseases, hospices; neurological care; homes for the old and lonely; homes for concentration camp survivors.

When she was approaching 30 she turned her attention homeward. There are 13 Sue Ryder homes in the UK. The hospice at Keighley has 16 beds and needs at least £1.6m a year in donations and contributions to maintain its services.

Sue Ryder's enduring belief in what US President Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" is affirmed by a couple of local examples.

In June, 2008, Mrs Audrey Smith, the manager of the British Heart Foundation shop in Shipley's Market Square, appealed to the public for donations after thieves broke in and stole the safe containing the week's takings. The response, she later said, was "uplifting".

This summer a collection box for an Ilkley mother suffering from Multiple Sclerosis was taken from the counter of La Stazione coffee shop in the town's Station Plaza.

More than £1,000 was collected to more than match the money stolen.