AN organised gang of cruel crooks was caught stealing clothing from a collection bank which supports good causes in a village.

Alresford Parish Council staff spotted a man, dressed in a florescent high-vis jacket, taking clothes out of a collection point outside the pavilion in St Andrew’s Close, at around 11.55am on Friday.

After being challenged by council staff the man, who was part of a group, got into a silver Mercedes and fled the scene, taking the contents of the bank with him.

Frank Belgrove, chairman of Alresford Parish Council, said a silver Mercedes was also spotted on CCTV when the clothing bank was targeted three-months earlier.

He said: “The parish clerk spotted the van out the window and recognised it from the previous incident. The men saw us coming towards them and they ran away.”

The bank is part of an innovative scheme operated in conjunction with Tendring Council.

Alresford Parish Council receives a percentage of the cash collected, which it then distributes to community, sport and charitable groups based in the village via grants.

Witnesses should call 101.