A mother whose soldier son is preparing for deployment to Afghanistan has described a man who stole a Poppy Appeal charity box from her pub as a “scumbag”.
Debbie Carter said she “sobbed my heart out” when she realised the collection - raising funds for the Royal British Legion - had been taken from Morecambe’s Pier Hotel.
The anger the theft has caused has been compounded by the fact that her 23-year-old son, John Booth, is due to fly into battle himself at the end of the month.
Licensee Debbie, 43, said: “I am so upset. My family has fought for our country in the past and my son is going to Afghanistan for six months and isn’t going to be here for Christmas.
“It’s so awful that a despicable scumbag can come and do something like that.” The Marine Road Central venue’s 16 CCTV cameras were checked and police released an image of a man they said they “needed to speak with”.
Debbie said staff had never seen the man before.
She continued: “He picked the poppy box up to see how full it was before ordering a drink.
“He said he was really thirsty and could he have a glass of iced water for now.
“Sue, my bar supervisor, turned her back for one second and it was under his jacket. He took a swig of his water and then walked out.
“One of my regular customers was there and missed it by a split second. We’re absolutely mortified. It’s disgusting.
“My son has been in the army for six years and he loves fighting for his country.
“I was brought up with the Poppy Appeal. My grandfather was a chief petty officer in the Navy and the Royal British Legion was close to his heart.”
News of the crime came ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
Maree Brow, chairman of the Morecambe and Heysham Branch of The Royal British Legion, said: “It’s diabolical that people can go so low as to to steal a poppy tin.”
The thief struck at around 6.30pm on October 27. Lancashire Police issued a public appeal this week. Officers said the collection contained around £30.
PC John Bradshaw, of Lancashire Police, said: “This is a despicable offence and I would urge anyone who has any information about the identity of the man in the CCTV image to contact Lancashire Police on 101.”