A heartless thief has stolen £130 of cash earmarked for a children's reading project at Maida Vale Library.
Library worker Tim Fielder, 22, was serving a customer at the Sutherland Avenue centre when a man reached over the counter and grabbed cash straight from the till at around 5.30pm last Monday. Despite Mr Fielder giving chase, the callous criminal managed to escape with a wad of money.
The funds, which came from the sale of DVDs and CDs, would have been put towards 'Team Read' - a summer programme encouraging children to read six books over the holidays - and other library resources.
Mr Fielder said he had seen the man hanging around the till for about 20 minutes and thought he was acting suspiciously.
"At first I gave him the benefit of the doubt," he said. "I carried on serving the customer, but when I looked round again, the man had gone. I tried to run after him and went outside but I must have been about a split second too late to catch him.
"I'm not too sure what I would have done even if I had caught up with him, because I wasn't sure he had taken anything at that point."
He added that he has been working there for several weeks and was not aware of anything similar happening before. He said: "I think it was a one off. I don't think the man has been in here before or since the money was taken. We've changed the layout of the library so it can't happen again."
Mr Fielder described the man as around 6ft 1in tall, black, in his late 30s or early 40s, and wearing a green T-shirt, jeans and a jacket.
Anyone with information about the crime can call Westminster North Police Priority Crime Team on 020 7321 8510 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.