CROOKS have been described as ‘wicked’ after stealing money collected for the poppy appeal in Waterlooville.
For the last few weeks, scores of people have popped into St George’s Church to buy a poppy.
But on Saturday – just a day before people paid their respects to the fallen in Remembrance services across the country – the charity tin was snatched from the church.
Father Mike Sheffield, parish priest, believes the theft may have been well-planned to ensure the maximum amount of money was taken because it was the last day of the collection.
He said: ‘It was definitely there on Friday when the church was closing.
‘We opened up on Saturday and people were in and out all the time.
‘By Saturday afternoon, it was gone.
‘The pot was quite heavy.
‘The box and poppies were still there but there was no collecting pot.’
The poppy appeal box was on the table by the entrance to the church, as it always has been in previous years.
Father Sheffield added: ‘It’s a huge disappointment.
‘I am angry that someone should see a poppy pot as a source of getting money.’
The theft was condemned by community leaders.
Barbara Watkinson, 81, of Anne Crescent, Waterlooville, has been selling poppies in Waterlooville since the age of eight when her father, Frederick Helyer, was killed in the Battle of Narvik during the Second World War.
She said: ‘I think it’s wicked – I really do.
‘Words fail me. You just would not think anybody would stoop so low, especially to take it from a church.
‘They might need our help one day. I hope they can catch the culprit.’
Olive Rush, who has organised the poppy appeal in Havant for several decades, said: ‘It’s disgusting.
‘It happened to me years ago. They might have a relation that needs our help one day.
‘Unfortunately it’s the world we live in.’
Last year £50 was collected from the poppy appeal tin in Havant. On a national scale, £42.8m was collected.
The money was spent on helping servicemen and women, serving and non-serving, including welfare services and care homes.