THIEVES stole a charity collection box full of money to help make dreams come true for children with life-threatening illnesses.

The pair, a man and a woman, distracted a shop worker in Costcutter in Campbell Street, Farnworth, before stealing the tin.

The box was tied down with rope, but the thieves used a lighter to burn through it.

It was placed in the shop to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which raises money to pay for special treats for youngsters with life-threatening conditions.

Shop owner Baz Jethwa said: “We tied it up so that no-one could run off with it but they have gone to extremes and burnt through the string to pinch it.

“It just goes to show how low some people can go.

“It is a wake up call for us. If they can do that, what else are they capable of?”

Mr Jethwa has pledged £100 of his own money to the charity following the theft.

A local resident asked shops to have the collection boxes after his son, who had leukaemia, was given a special treat by the charity.

The father, who asked not to be named, said: “My son had his bedroom decorated and got a Playstation and games. I was over the moon that the charity did that for us.

“I thought the least I could do was put some tins in shops.

“I can’t believe they have done this. It could be their child that has leukaemia tomorrow. Any charity box is for a good cause and it is shocking that someone would take it.”

Insp Kevin Lister, from the Bolton south neighbourhood policing team, said: “This is a shocking crime and inquiries are ongoing to find the offenders.”

Fundraising director Karen England, from Make-A-Wish, said: “The money that the generous public donate to us is invaluable in helping us to grant magical wishes, so we are shocked and saddened to hear that a Make-A-Wish collection tin has been stolen.”