This is Preston’s most despicable thief, now serving his FOURTH jail sentence for stealing from charity boxes in the city.
Carl Mason, 32, who shamelessly targets funds intended for injured soldiers and sick children to fuel his drug addiction, could be free to steal again as soon as August.
Three months ago the thief was told by a judge “you really are drinking at the last-chance saloon” as he was handed a suspended sentence for stealing a student’s suitcase when she arrived in Preston to study. Just weeks later, Mason snatched charity boxes from the bar at The Sumners Arms in Fulwood as he casually supped a pint of cider.
Landlady Joanne Briggs said: “He really is the lowest of the low. Any thieving is wrong but when people give to charity it is often close to their heart.
“It could be a family member has had cancer or a heart attack and they want to do something.”
One of the boxes had been left on the bar by regular Tony Scott, who will be running the London Marathon later this month in support of his father-in-law, David Melling, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago. Tony, a former armed forces medic, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and now works for Sky, was horrified when pub staff told him it had been stolen, along with other collections tins on the bar.
He said: “I felt really annoyed at first but then it turned to disbelief – how could somebody steal from a charity?”
Joanne said she spotted the charity boxes had been stolen when she returned from a weekend away at the start of February. After checking back through the pub’s CCTV she saw Mason brazenly swipe the collection box from under the noses of customers.
She said: “It was a match day and about five past three he came in and ordered a pint. I can’t believe he was so quick. There were two customers standing on either side, who I know would have said something if they had seen him, because I know them. He was chatting away and drinking his pint and you see his hand slip under his jacket. Then he finishes his pint and rides away on a push bike.
“He was very, very brazen. I’m just glad someone recognised him at the police station but if he has done it before and been to prison before it’s not deterring him, is it?
“There is just no regard for other people and what they might be going through. It’s all self, self, self but these are local people and local charities that need support.”
Mason, of Fishergate, Preston, has claimed his stealing has been triggered by the death of his ex-girlfriend in a hit-and-run accident and that he stole from the children’s charity Lucy Air Ambulance to repay the Royal British Legion after targeting Poppy Appeal tins in the run up to Remembrance Day.
His excuses have been branded “despicable” and “below contempt” by police officers who have dealt with him.
He has stolen from businesses across Lancashire including Mini Magees soft play and party centre in Ashton, Costa Coffee in Fishergate and Boots in Fishergate.
He also targeted a staff rest room in McDonalds, Preston, where he stole a mobile phone which had been left on a table and burgled a family home, stealing £245 of holiday money hours before the occupiers were due to fly to the Irish Republic.