CONCERNS have been raised about professional gangs stealing unwanted clothing left out in recycling bags.

David Woods, 75, of The Fairway, Leigh, said he has seen the same two men turn up in a white Nissan van every Monday morning to steal white textile recycling sacks from outside people’s homes.

The bags are left out by residents to be picked up by refuse men from Cory Environmental, on behalf of Southend Council, but the men arrive at about 5.45am, well before the Cory trucks.

Two men were also recently caught on CCTV stealing textile recycling sacks from Southwick Road, Canvey, and Mr Woods fears the bags are being stolen by gangs.

He said: “They come here because they know people have money in this area, but I’m quite sure they know they’re breaking the law because, if you look at them, they turn their lights off so you can’t see the registration plate.

“These are the same kind of people who steal from outside charity shops.

“They’ve no morals – it’s all about cash.

“They’re making a living from weighing these bags in and selling the clothes.”

Mr Woods has reported the van’s registration number to the police, who confirmed the thefts were classed as an offence, as the bags were expressly left out for the council to collect.

Officers are now investigating and have asked anyone with information to call them on 101.

A Southend Council spokesman also advised residents to report any suspicious activity.

He said: “We’d urge residents to be vigilant and, if they spot any vehicles other than those operated by Cory attempting to collect their textile recycling sacks, to record the registration numbers and alert the police.

“If residents are concerned about their textile bags being stolen, we’d ask them to consider other ways of recycling their clothing, such as taking it to a local clothing bank or charity shop.”