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'Disgraceful' thieves cut open Royal British Legion poppy appeal pot to steal donations at Fairweather's garden centre in Beaulieu

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A BEAULIEU garden centre slammed “disgraceful” thieves who cut open a poppy appeal collection pot and stole its takings in the run-up to Remembrance Day.

Offenders were believed to have taken a hacksaw or a knife to the Royal British Legion pot which had been chained to the information desk at Fairweather’s in High Street.

The theft was discovered when an RBL representative arrived to collect the donations.

The pot at Fairweather's was cut open
The pot at Fairweather's was cut open

“We’re in total shock. I think they should just be ashamed of themselves,” Lisa Smith, PA to business owner Patrick Fairweather, told the A&T.

“I can only think they must have used someone to distract us at the counter as it’s quite an obvious place to be seen just standing around.”

Mrs Smith did not know how much money had been taken, but said the pot had been emptied a week earlier.

Disgusted by the theft, she said a regular customer’s grandchildren had donated their own pocket money shortly beforehand.

This was the first time a poppy collection pot has been targeted in all the years Fairweather’s has supported the appeal.

Mrs Smith urged businesses to be vigilant to avoid falling victim to the same type of theft, commenting whoever was responsible was “obviously well organised”.

“We will be donating £50 to go towards the money that was stolen, along with 10% of sales from our own poppy jewellery and scarves that we sell,” she continued.

“All the team here at Fairweather’s are very upset and angry. The poppy appeal relies on donations and it’s disgraceful stealing from a charity at this time of year.

“The collection pot has been replaced, and we are being extra vigilant to make sure that it does not happen again.”

The theft was discovered just a day before Fairweather’s was due to install extra CCTV coverage as part of a bid to strengthen security following a number of recent incidents.

These included jewellery being removed from boxes displayed on the shelves.

Those with information should contact Hampshire police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, with the reference: 44210453540.

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