TWO thieves who pinched bags of clothing meant for a charity from outside homes in the borough have been given community orders.
Vidmantas Valancevicius, 27, and Vaiva Sataite, 24, both of Brook Drive, Harrow, were charged with theft after being caught with the second-hand clothing intended for the charities Clothes Aid and Make A Wish.
Both denied the charge but were found guilty by a jury at Isleworth Crown Court.
Passing sentence, recorder Martyn Barklem said: "You were found to be in possession of a number of bags for a charity said to exist in Lithuania.
"In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I take the clear view that you stole bags intended by the donors for genuine charities.
"The removal of items that are clearly intended for genuine charities is a particularly mean-spirited offence.
"I have no doubt that the two of you knew exactly what you were doing and chose to plead ignorance."
A custodial sentence was deemed not to be appropriate. The pair were both fined £500 each in costs and given curfew orders requiring them to remain at home in the evenings.
A spokesman for Hillingdon police said: "This is the first case to go to crown court and for the court to pass sentence itself, as opposed to sending it back to the magistrates for sentence.
"Now with this conviction we can send a message out to the community that we do treat this kind of theft as seriously as any other.
"And it is theft to take charity bags not belonging to you."
A Clothes Aid spokesman said: "We are very happy with the guilty verdict and that local police are taking this crime seriously.
"Every year an estimated £7million is lost to the charity sector due to thieves.
"It's important the donating public don't let thieves steal their charitable spirit and continue to donate.
"Householders can protect their donations by checking the charity has a charity number and that the company is regis-tered at company house.
"Look out for Clothes Aidbranded vans and uniform, and if you suspect anything is wrong, call the police or your local trading standards officers."