Shop thieves steal poppy do­na­tions for vet­er­ans

Col­lec­tion tins taken in ‘ap­palling’ smash and grab raid just days be­fore Re­mem­brance

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - FRONT PAGE - BY TAM­SIN GRAY

THIEVES have stolen a north­east com­mu­nity’s Re­mem­brance col­lec­tion in a late-night raid just days be­fore the 100th an­niver­sary of Armistice Day.

The smash-and-grab hap­pened at WH Smith in Peter­head late on Wed­nes­day.

It is be­lieved the cul­prits tar­geted the shop for cig­a­rettes, but when it proved too hard to get them, they snatched the Poppy Scot­land col­lec­tion tins, which were full of do­na­tions for ser­vice­men and vet­er­ans.

The tins were smashed open as the crim­i­nals stole the con­tents.

Poppy Scot­land said it was “ap­palled” at the crime, while Peter­head Royal Bri­tish Le­gion branch com­mit­tee mem­ber Robert Fraser called it “dis­ap­point­ing.”

He said: “I took the Poppy Scot­land col­lec­tion box down there my­self, and my wife went past her­self on Wed­nes­day and saw they had sold out of their pop­pies.

“This money is im­por­tant as it is for the vet­er­ans and this is dis­ap­point­ing not only for them but also for the staff at WH Smith as they’ve done their best to get do­na­tions.”

Po­lice have ar­rested two men aged 29 and 38 in con­nec­tion with the break-in.

Thieves snatched packed Poppy Scot­land tins in a smash-and-grab raid just three days be­fore com­mu­ni­ties across the north-east come to­gether to com­mem­o­rate the 100th an­niver­sary of Armistice Day.

They broke into the WH Smith store on Marischal Street, Peter­head on Wed­nes­day night – ap­par­ently in search of high-value cig­a­rettes.

When these proved too dif­fi­cult to se­cure, they turned their at­ten­tion to the col­lect­ing tins.

They were full as the store had sold its en­tire sup­ply of poppy pins, the money from which sup­ports ser­vice­men and vet­er­ans.

The tins them­selves were smashed open as the crim­i­nals stole the con­tents – though they left an as­sort­ment of coins scat­tered around the store where they fell.

Po­lice said they had ar­rested two men, aged 29 and 38, in con­nec­tion with the rob­bery, which took place at around 11pm.

On Wed­nes­day, staff at the store were said to have been de­lighted by the suc­cess of their Poppy Scot­land col­lec­tion.

Yes­ter­day, how­ever, the shop at­mos­phere was less jolly as as­sis­tants swept the rem­nants of a shat­tered glass door from the mat.

Robert Fraser, a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee for the Peter­head branch of the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion, said the theft was “dis­ap­point­ing”.

He said: “I took the Poppy Scot­land col­lec­tion box down there my­self, while my wife went past her­self on Wed­nes­day and saw they had sold out of their pop­pies.

“I went down to­day to of­fer them more only to find that some­one had smashed through the bot­tom pane of glass in the door.

“I think they were af­ter cig­a­rettes but couldn’t get them so took the tins in­stead.

“The cords around the tins were pulled off and they must have knocked the tops off as there were some coins on the floor.

“This money is im­por­tant as it is for the vet­er­ans and this is dis­ap­point­ing not only for them but also for the staff at WH Smith, as they’ve done their best to get do­na­tions.”

The amount of money stolen is un­der­stood to have been rel­a­tively mod­est, but a Poppy Scot­land spokesman said: “We are ap­palled to hear two of our col­lect­ing tins have been stolen.

“Mem­bers of the Armed Forces com­mu­nity de­pend on Poppy Scot­land’s vi­tal, life-chang­ing sup­port but we can only con­tinue to pro­vide this as a re­sult of gen­er­ous do­na­tions from the pub­lic.

“Thank­fully this is an ex­tremely rare oc­cur­rence.

“We would urge any­one with in­for­ma­tion to con­tact Po­lice Scot­land im­me­di­ately.”

Last night a po­lice spokes­woman con­firmed that in­ves­ti­ga­tions were mov­ing swiftly.

She said: “Two men have been ar­rested fol­low­ing the al­leged theft by house­break­ing of two char­ity tins from the WH Smith at Marischal Street in Peter­head at around 11pm on Wed­nes­day.

“The men are aged 29 and 38.”

As the in­ci­dent is in the hands of the po­lice, WH Smith were un­able to pro­vide a com­ment.

“I think they were af­ter cig­a­rettes but... took the tins in­stead”

‘DIS­AP­POINT­ING’: The door of a Peter­head newsagents was smashed by thieves who took the Poppy Scot­land col­lec­tion tin

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