Burnley charity box thief in court

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A prolific charity box thief who says it is second nature to him has been bailed while he awaits sentence.

Heartless heroin addict Carl Anthony Mason (33) struck again at Labrokes in Burnley on February 18th, five days later at Premier Store in Preston and then at All Fresh grocers in Burnley, on March 9th.

The defendant, of Hobart Street, had recently admitted three counts of theft of charity boxes. He was due to be sentenced by the town’s magistrates on Wednesday, but the case was adjourned for two weeks. He was banned from Ladbrokes.

Mason has more than 110 offences, almost 50 of them for theft, on his record and his past targets have included good causes collecting for sick children and injured soldiers. He has already been to jail six times.

In November 2011, he was locked up for 12 months for helping himself to seven Poppy Appeal collecting tins in Blackburn.

Last December, Mason was back in court when patients at Pendleside Hospice and the Poppy Appeal again, became the latest victims of his actions.

The jobless father-of-three stole five more boxes in the Preston and the Burnley areas, days after being freed from custody, while on licence and subject to a community order. He was caught each time on CCTV.

The defendant, who had used special cutters to free boxes from the straps holding them down, had been given a 28-day jail term.

Mason had on that occasion admitted three charges of theft and asked for two offences to be considered. Four of the charity boxes had been for Pendleside Hospice.

The court had then been told how Mason had stole collecting tins from a doctors’ surgery on Yorkshire Street, Pratts News on Padiham Road, Bailey and Garrett chemist on Rosegrove Lane and Todd Pharmacy on Burnley Road.

The prosecutor said Mason had told police his heroin habit had “rocketed.” She continued: “He said he was ashamed of his actions and didn’t want to hurt anyone. He also said he had got himself in a mess and couldn’t get himself out of it.”