A poppy-box thief (or thieves) has struck at two businesses in Abbotsford, and police are asking for help to identify them.
Abbotsford Police Sgt. Judy Bird said the first theft took place at about 4 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 7) at the Sandman Hotel at 32720 Simon Ave.
She said a man took the donation box from the front service desk. The suspect is described as Caucasian, 30 to 35 years old and 5’ 10” with a medium build. He was wearing a tan baggy jacket, dark jeans and a dark baseball cap.
The second theft was at about 8:15 p.m. on Sunday (Nov. 8) at the Abbotsford Esso at 2335 Clearbrook Rd. when a man took the donation box from the front cashier counter.
That man was also white, in his 30s, about 5’ 9” and with a medium build. He was wearing a black jacket, white hoodie and a dark baseball cap.
Bird said it is not know if the same suspect was involved in both incidents.
She described the thefts as “abhorrent.”
“The money raised from donations provides direct assistance for our veterans in financial distress, as well as funding for medical equipment, medical research, home services, long-term-care facilities and many other purposes. These actions of this suspect are disgraceful,” Bird said.
The Abbotsford branch of the Royal Canadian Legion previously announced that this year, due to the pandemic, there would be only one location – Sevenoaks Shopping Centre – for in-person poppy sales. But the number of donation boxes around the city would be about three times the normal amount.
Thefts of poppy boxes have been common in recent years throughout the Lower Mainland. On some occasions, the thieves have posed as volunteers picking up the funds, resulting in the legion introducing extra precautions.
These measures have included volunteers dressing in uniform and/or wearing their legion card.
Anyone who has information about the recent stolen poppy boxes is asked to contact the Abbotsford Police Department at 604-859-5225 or text 22973 (abbypd).