Poppy cash swiped “by a junkie”


By Michael MacLeod

A HEARTLESS thief smashed into a cafe to steal a poppy collection box.

The red plastic poppy appeal box contained £50, which the angry shop owner fears will be spent on drugs.

Despite multiple break-ins, he insists he’ll keep on selling poppies, “for the good of the cause.”

The front door of Net’s Cafe in Whitburn, West Lothian was broken into overnight between Sunday and Monday.

Owner Alex Hunter, 51, said: “It’s absolutely disgusting somebody would go to such pains to steal a poppy box.

“The collection had been very popular, customers actually asked us to get one going.

“But it’s been swiped by a junkie, I’m sure of it, because he’s been breaking into shops in our town for months.”

The kind-heard shop owner has vowed to still give Poppy Scotland £50 from his own funds.

He added: “We’ve been broken into twice in two months now by an addict running around causing havoc with a metal bar.

“It’s horrendous, but he will not stop us selling poppies.

“The break-ins cost us upwards of £200 for repairs, but I’m still going to donate the amount of poppy money we had, for the good of the cause.”

A police spokesman said: “This was a particularly callous crime.

“The shop owner has been advised of safety precautions to prevent the chance of a repeat offence.”

Last week Roger Duddridge, the chairman of the Royal British Legion, said the theft of collection boxes is a sad fact of modern life.

He said: “It is one of those things unfortunately now, and I don’t know how you overcome it.

“More and more people are saying they are scared to go out on their own and I wouldn’t particularly like to stand on a street corner on my own trying to sell poppies with about £20 in my tin.

“This is why we try to get poppies into secure locations, in buildings and supermarkets where there is less chance of them being stolen.”

Poppy Scotland runs the poppy appeal in association with the Royal British Legion.

The annual appeal helps raise funds to support wounded troops and the families of those that have lost their lives in conflict.