Thieves Steal £1,500 In Poppy Appeal Donations From 84-Year-Old Veteran

It seems to happen every year, but it never gets any less heinous a crime - a gang of thugs has stolen about £1,500 ($1,950) in money collected by the Royal British Legion from an 84-year-old poppy seller who also happens to be an armed forces veteran.

Maurice Bastable was in Festival Place, a shopping centre in Basingstoke, selling his poppies while wearing his full Coldstream Guards uniform when a group of three people approached him.

The group, which consisted of a woman and two men, stole two cash boxes from the pensioner while his back was turned, before one of the group returned to grab another from him the following day. In total they took around £1,500 in charitable donations from him over the weekend.

Credit: INS News
Credit: INS News

According to Mr Bastable, the police were able to use the shopping centre security cameras to track down the culprits and bring them to justice.

Mr Bastable has been selling poppies for the Royal British Legion for 12 years and described the thieves as 'scum of the earth' and lamented the fact that they have to put chains on charity boxes to stop people making off with them.

Speaking from his house in Hampshire, he told the Daily Mail: "I was very shaken up, as you can well imagine.

"We all know thieving goes on all over the country, but it has never happened to me in the 12 years I've been collecting from the public."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

He continued: "I had been there all day since half past eight. At a quarter to six I started to pack up.

"Obviously, somebody distracted my attention deliberately and when I turned around, two of the cash boxes had disappeared.

"The shopping centre has 400 security cameras, so the police and security were very quickly on the spot and they did make an identification.

"On Sunday morning, one of the same people stole a third collecting box off the actual stall which I was attending."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

If there is any positive to come out of this incident, it is that the heartless actions of the thieves actually ended up raising more money for the charity after an appeal on social media.

Mr Bastable explained: "News of the robbery went on Facebook and the response from the public has been absolutely tremendous.

"A lady sent me a cheque for £200 ($260). The response from the people of Basingstoke since this has been fantastic, they've been throwing money at us.

"In a way, it's a weird twist of fate but what they did has doubled our money, even though we lost £1,500 out of the three boxes that they stole."

As well as that, the shopping centre donated to the cause to help cover the cost of the theft.

Hampshire Police confirmed that two men, aged 28 and 54 years old, and a woman aged 24 had been arrested on suspicion of theft. They have been released pending investigation.

Featured Image Credit: PA/Google Maps

Tom Wood

Tom Wood is a freelance journalist and LADbible contributor. He graduated from University of London with a BA in Philosophy before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. He has previously written for the M.E.N Group as well as working for several top professional sports clubs. Contact him on [email protected]

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