by Ken Bennett
A FURIOUS ex-council chair lashed a sneak thief who stole a charity box from the counter of a village pub.
Neil Allsopp (65), was caught up in the real life drama when the thief tore the box from its chains and made off into the night chased by pub staff and irate customers.
The incident happened at The Railway Inn Greenfield, famed for its country and folk music and a favourite watering hole for travellers on the Rail Ale Trail from the nearby station.
Cllr Allsopp was sitting in the pub when the thief raced in snatching a box dedicated to raising cash for the heroes of the snows, Oldham Mountain Rescue Team, who are based in Saddleworth.
Outraged pub staff and customers chased the raider across the road, into the station and along the main train line towards Mossley before losing him in bushes at the side of the track.
Speaking today, Cllr Allsopp, former chair of Saddleworth Parish Council, said:”The Railway has CCTV as does the station.
‘I hope this helps the police catch this piece of human excrement. When they do, can we all petition the court to ban them from anywhere in Saddleworth for five years and ensure their photograph is displayed around Saddleworth.”
The irate councillor continued:” Stealing from a charity is not in the gutter. It’s in the sewers.
“All Saddleworth shops and pubs need be extra vigilant and keep watch on your charity boxes.
“The Mountain Rescue box was stolen in front of customers — even though it was chained to the bar!”
And he urged businesses: “Watch your counter-top charity boxes and ensure your CCTV is working. We need to stop this before the scum think Saddleworth businesses are “easy pickings” once again.
“Moutain Rescue do a truly marvellous job for the community and stealing the box is a really deep cut.”
Barmaid Toni Boswell was cleaning the pubs drip trays when the raider struck.
She said:” We have four charity boxes chained to the bar and it wasn’t until the box vanished we realised it belonged to moutain rescue.
“It all happened very quickly but customers and staff all rushed out and gave chase through the station.
‘It’s just so sad when people steal money given to charity in good faith by kindly folk,” she added.
A man who lives near the pub but did not want to be named said:”I saw a man loitering near the pub and the next thing a pile of folk were chasing after him.”
There was outrage in the community a few years ago when charity boxes were stolen from Diggle Chippy and kind-hearted well wishers replenished the stolen money.