A BRAZEN thief snatched a Poppy Appeal collection pot from a shop counter in Weymouth.
The thief, described as ‘despicable’ by police, is understood to have slipped the Royal British Legion charity box inside his coat at the Costcutter store in Portland Road, Wyke Regis, while the shop owner’s back was turned.
As police launched an appeal to find the man responsible, the shop released CCTV images of a man wearing a blue coat and glasses who may have information about the theft.
A copy of the CCTV recording has been handed to police to help investigations.
The appeal for information was launched just after Remembrance Sunday when Dorset stood silent to honour the fallen who gave their lives for their country.
In the run-up to the weekend when Services of Remembrance were held at war memorials, people expressed their support for the work of the Royal British Legion through the Poppy Appeal.
The theft from Costcutter happened between 6.15pm and 6.30pm on Friday, November 9.
It is not known how much the box contained but it is thought it may have been quite full considering it happened towards the end of the appeal.
It is believed the theft happened when the shop owner turned his back on a customer he was serving.
Naomi Turner, Poppy Appeal organiser for Weymouth and chairman of the town’s RBL branch described the theft as ‘very sad’ and said it was the second Royal British Legion charity box to have been stolen in Weymouth – another was taken from NatWest bank on the first weekend of November.
She said: “We had another Poppy Appeal pot taken early on but that would have been almost empty, this would have been full.
“Weymouth is the most generous place I’ve ever come across, we have 500 collection boxes across the town.
“On Saturday we raised £620 in the Asda foyer with four boxes, which was amazing.
“It’s so sad that an individual can think they have the right to take money that people have donated.”
She added: “The Poppy Appeal does so much good for so many ex-service people and their families.
“These people have served the country and sometimes they’ve lost the people most dear to them.
“Every penny raised goes to the Poppy Appeal, all our collectors are volunteers and nothing is taken out for administration costs.
“The appeal provides help almost from the cradle to the grave because it provides for children of ex-service people right the way through to ex-service people who need wheelchairs.”
Inspector Les Fry, who heads Weymouth and Portland police, said: “This is a despicable crime, stealing from people whose need is far greater than the criminal’s.
“We hope we can get some information that will lead to the apprehension of the offender and the recovery of the money.
“We hope the community, when they hear about this brazen act, will come forward and tell us who’s taken this collection pot.
“These people who the money is intended for have a real need and we want to do everything we can to support the good work that the Poppy Appeal does.”
Anyone with any information regarding this crime should contact Dorset Police on 101, quoting crime number 47445.