The organiser of a craft market in Devizes has condemned a decision by the police to let off with a caution two people who stole money from her charity collection bucket.

The brazen thieves – a man and woman from Devizes – were caught on CCTV taking the collection bucket from the foyer of the Corn Exchange during the market on Sunday, May 19.

A short time later they returned the bucket with just 41p in coins left in it.

A member of staff at the Corn Exchange viewed the CCTV, recognised the couple and told the police.

The pair were interviewed by police and admitted stealing money but were only given cautions.

Mother-of-two Hazel Wyatt, who organised the craft market, said the decision sends out the wrong message to thieves.

Mrs Wyatt, 35, collects donations for The Brain Tumour Charity as Leigh Hawkins, a father-of-four and friend who lives in her village of Burbage, is undergoing treatment for a brain tumour.

Mrs Wyatt, who viewed the CCTV footage, said: “They took the bucket from the foyer into the lift looking over their shoulders to make sure no one saw them and went into the toilets downstairs. They put the bucket back into the lift and it was empty except for 41p.

“The police told me the offenders gave different amounts of how much they stole. One of them said it was £8 and the other said it was about £14.

“The other stallholders gave donations to make up for the loss, which was brilliant. When the police told me the people who stole the money would be cautioned and they don’t have to pay the money back because they are on benefits I was disgusted.

“I think they should have gone to court because what message does it send out to people? I think they should have at least written an apology to the charity and paid the money back.”

Mr Hawkins, 30, said: “I don’t how the people who stole the money can sleep at night. It is quite upsetting that they have taken money from a charity. A caution is nothing. I don’t think they will learn their lesson from that. People who go a few miles over the speed limit get a £60 fine whereas people who steal from a charity end up with a caution.”

The decision to caution the offenders – a 55-year-old woman and 48-year-old man from Devizes – was taken by the local crime team based at Melksham Police Station.

Inspector Matthew Armstrong said: “The matter was concluded with an out of court disposal after consultation with guidance provided by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office.”

He said that the intention was for the stolen money to be returned.