Thieves stole £7,500 in US dollars, intended to help schoolchildren in Zimbabwe, from a church minister as she left the Sainsbury’s superstore in Old Shoreham Road, West Hove, shortly after completing a currency exchange.
The Reverend Lynda Hulcoop, minister at Southwick Christian Community Church in Roman Crescent, Southwick, had gone to collect the money at around 4pm on Monday 23 January before flying out to Zimbabwe on a charity mission from which she returned on Tuesday (14 February).
Watch the CCTV and see if you can help identify the two suspects.
Most of the cash had been raised via church sales and other events. It was going to support schools in the African republic, including a special school for disabled children, and the Paraclete Christian Network International, an evangelical group operating in Zimbabwe.
As the pastor went to leave the store, two other women followed her to the exit and used sleight of hand to remove bundles of banknotes from a bag she was carrying.
Miss Hulcoop said: “Many people had donated and worked very hard to raise these funds for educational support of children, for a special needs school, for the support of a disabled young man who had recently tragically lost his mother, for food and medical aid, for a youth music project and to support our maize seed project growing food.
“Zimbabwe rarely makes the headlines these days but the situation there is dire. The economy and the banking system have basically collapsed. Normally our charity sends money by bank transfer but this option is no longer viable as the banks only allow people to withdraw US$100 per day involving many long hours of queuing. Thus we had to take cash.”
After returning from Africa, Miss Hulcoop said: “Having just spent the last two weeks living among these lovely but poverty-stricken people trapped in such dire circumstances and surviving on so little, I am left feeling even more deeply the horrible injustice of this incident.
“Greedy people preying on others for their own gain have stolen money meant for children and families in desperate need in a country on the verge of collapse. The whole community who gave so generously feels the offence very keenly.”
Detectives have obtained closed-circuit television (CCTV) images of the suspects and have also contacted other bureaux de change concerning the theft.
Anyone who may have seen what happened, who recognises the women believed to have been involved or who may have other information is asked to contact police here quoting serial 1054 of 23/01.