Community rallies around after deaf bin cleaner's van is stolen

The van was stolen in Northway, Hampstead Garden Suburb, on February 2

The van was stolen while the pair were working in Northway, Hampstead Garden Suburb, on February 2 - Credit: Google

Hampstead Garden Suburb residents have raised money for a deaf bin cleaner after his adapted work van was stolen. 

Sylvain Dwek, who is based in Hendon, has been running The Clean Bin Company for around 20 years – 10 of those alongside Dennis who works with him and acts as a sign language interpreter. 

The pair were working in Northway in Hampstead Garden Suburb on February 2 when the van was taken, as well as Sylvain’s phone and keys.  

The theft has left them unable to work, forcing Sylvain to try to find a replacement. 

Sylvain said: "I am devastated that my van and equipment was stolen, but at the same time I'm overwhelmed that my clients in Hampstead Garden Suburb have been so kind and supportive."

His sister, Sandra Birnbaum, said: “They stole his transport, but they also stole his livelihood. He had no means of making a living, and no means of communicating. He was completely stripped of everything in one second.” 

She said while Sylvain’s phone has been recovered, buying a replacement van can cost £20,000 brand new, or around £18,000 second hand. 

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Due to the keys being left in the ignition when it was stolen, the insurer had initially said the theft is not covered. However, it has since agreed to provide an undisclosed amount of money as a goodwill gesture, though Sandra says this will not be the full amount.

And then there are additional funds required to replace the equipment Sylvain and Dennis kept in the van.  

High pressure hoses and generators are required in their work, with Sylvain’s stolen equipment worth around £2,000. 

The fundraiser, on Justgiving, was started by locals to “help them back on the path to earn their livelihood” by contributing money towards a new van. 

Sandra said she does not know those organising it, or many of those contributing, but that it is “really moving".

"It’s not so much the money aspect, it’s more that they’re making him feel worthy," she said. 

As of February 7, more than £3,000 had been raised, covering the equipment needed for the van. 

To donate, search "Silvan" page on

The Met Police has been approached for comment.