Poppy wearing thief steals Royal British Legion collection tin
THIS is the moment a thief pocketed a Royal British Legion collection tin while wearing a poppy.
He was captured on CCTV at the BP Connect garage in Ashchurch Road, Tewkesbury, as he snatched the charity box collecting money for servicemen in the run up to Remembrance Sunday.
It was one of four shameful thefts of Poppy Appeal collections in shops and pubs across the county in just one day.
Peter Godwin, secretary of the Royal British Legion club in Tewkesbury, was horrified by the theft on Monday.
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He said it appeared to have been carefully thought out by the thief, who had used a device to cut through a cable that secured the box to a desk.
"It's very sad that there are people in our society who would steal any of these charity collection pots, not just the Legion's," he added.
"It's very sad that there is a minority that think it's an easy way to get money."
He added that although most businesses had agreed to take Poppy Appeal boxes in Tewkesbury this year, one or two had declined because they felt it would be an invitation to thieves to steal them.
Another offender struck three times in a matter of hours in villages in the Cotswolds.
The man managed to grab collection tins from the Post Office in High Street, Chipping Campden, The Ox Wine Company in Market Place, Northleach and the Duke of Wellington Inn in Sherbourne Street, Bourton-on-the-Water.
Gareth Evans, manager at the Duke of Wellington, said he was disgusted with the theft.
He remembers speaking to the man when he came in, before leaving him to read a menu.
It was only later that he discovered the charity box had gone. The thief had cut through a cord attaching the tin to the bar before snatching it.
"It is just despicable behaviour," said Mr Evans.
"People here are absolutely livid about this. It is a subject which is so close to so many people's hearts."
Villagers have now rallied around with a vow that the Royal British Legion will not lose out as a result of the theft.
Businesses plan to hold a massive raffle in the pub at 9pm tonight with all the money going raised going to the Poppy Appeal.
Mr Evans said: "Why should the Legion have to forfeit this money because of this idiot?
"I don't know how much money was in the tin but I would assume by this stage it was a reasonable amount."
The offender in the Cotswolds incidents was white, aged in his late 50s or early 60s and 6ft 2in.
He had grey, collar length hair and was wearing a green wax style country jacket, a flat green cap and blue jumper.
Inspector Owen Hughes, of Gloucestershire police, said: "This is a despicable crime.
"It is hard to comprehend how anyone can think it is acceptable to steal from any charity.
"This money has been donated by people for an incredibly worthy cause and we are committed to finding those individuals responsible."
Anyone recognising the people in the images should contact police on 101.