Shameless Thieves Jump Into Shopping Center Fountain to Steal Charity Donation Coins
Theft in plain sight.
Fountains full of coins intended to be donated to charity are a staple of many shopping centers, but the scene at a mall in Nottingham, England, wasn't typical: Thieves jumped into the fountain to scoop up the coins for themselves. It happened last Saturday at the Victoria Center, and the whole thing was caught on camera, from the heist to observers' reactions.
Read on to find out what happened, what authorities have to say about it, and if the thieving twosome ended up snagging any jail time.
The coins thrown into the shopping center's fountain are all donated to local charities. Shoppers are encouraged to toss in their change and make a wish. But the pair of thieves were captured on video satisfying their wants. A passer-by filmed the men crouching in the fountain, scooping up the coins, and filling their pockets. "Oh my god," an observer is heard saying. Ultimately, the men jump back over the fountain's glass partition and make their escape.
"We can confirm that an incident took place at the centre on Saturday, Dec 17," said a spokesperson for the Victoria Center. "It appears that two individuals climbed into the fountain of the Emett Clock, taking some of the coins that have been thrown in there.
She continued: "For many years, our shoppers have kindly made 'penny wishes' at the Emett Clock, with all of the donations received being given to our chosen charities. It is upsetting for everyone to see the blatant disregard that is being shown for the generosity of others and the vital work that charities in our city carry out—particularly so close to Christmas."
Chloe Shanon was shopping at the mall with her children when she noticed what was going on and started filming the scene with her phone."There was no security around at all," she told BBC Radio. "Apparently someone contacted the police, but I don't know if this happened. It was horrible to watch. Who would steal charity money?"
"My three-year-old turned around to me and asked me why they were doing that, and I had to tell him they were being naughty," Shanon said. "I didn't know how else to explain it. How they could steal from a children's charity is beyond me." Anyone with information has been encouraged to contact Nottingham police, but the alleged thieves remain at large.
This isn't the first time video of someone nabbing coins out of a fountain has gone viral. In 2018, footage of a man taking coins out of a fountain at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City made the rounds and attracted mixed reactions. Ultimately, a woman commented on a Facebook post about the video that the man was her brother and was having problems with addiction. "The more I watched it and the more traction it got on the internet, the worse I felt," said the man who took the video. "I hope he gets some help. I hope he maybe gets a glimpse of himself and (decides) it's time to make a change."
Some areas are less tolerant of this kind of theft, if you happen to get caught. In 2019, police in Rome fined a Dutch tourist $500 for taking a coin from a fountain in Piazza Navona. The 36-year-old man was caught red-handed by police. The Italian city had recently implemented harsher penalties for disruptive behavior such as swimming in fountains or drinking alcohol after 11 pm.