Poppy collections stolen on Remembrance Day at Essex shops

Costcutter in Hockley
Image caption A man and a woman are thought to have stolen the collection from Costcutter

Police are investigating after thieves stole three separate poppy collections in South Essex.

All three thefts happened on Remembrance Sunday at shops in the Southend area.

Two collection thefts were reported in Rochford and the third took place at the Costcutter shop in Hockley.

Costcutter owner Peter Woods said: "If they've got any respect they will give it back, give it to the Royal British Legion (RBL)."

He said there was about £150 in his shop's collection box, which had been on the counter.

'Ashamed of themselves'

"It is disgraceful," he said.

Mr Woods told how one of his cashiers was distracted as the man and the woman made off with the poppy cash.

The RBL's Poppy Appeal is the organisation's biggest single fundraising effort and this year it hopes to raise £42m. Poppies were first sold in the UK as a symbol of remembrance in 1921.

Len James, poppy organiser for the Hockley branch of the RBL, said: "These mindless people ought to be ashamed of themselves."

He said he hoped the thieves would be caught.

Essex Police has confirmed it is investigating the incident and will be looking over CCTV footage from the Costcutter store.

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