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Police have launched a search for a “despicable” thief who stole charity donations intended for maimed servicemen.
Two collection tins for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal were stolen from Brighton shops.
Sussex Police have released a picture of a man they want to speak to about the thefts.
Veterans have condemned the theft of money intended to help injured servicemen and their families.
The Royal British Legion, which organises the Poppy Appeal to raise much-needed funds in the run-up to Remembrance Day on Sunday, said it was “very sad” to hear about the theft.
Police officers investigating the crime described it as the “worst type of theft”.
Officers appealed for information on the whereabouts of 41-year-old Martin Grimshaw, who they want to interview about thefts from Sainsbury’s in North Street, Brighton, on Saturday and Kamsons pharmacy in Lewes Road on Monday.
PC Claire Horner said: “We are keen to locate Grimshaw and talk to him about these offences and the sooner the better.
“Stealing from charities is one of the worst types of theft we have to deal with and we find it very hard to understand how someone could do this.”
Former Royal Military Policeman Major Bob Peedle MBE said: “I think stealing money that goes to the welfare of servicemen is despicable.
“Over the years these boys and girls have given their physical and mental health and their families, wellbeing and worry.
“This money has not been donated so lowlifes can use it for their drugs or whatever.”
Royal British Legion county fundraiser Sarah Wellsby said: “It is so important that people give to the Poppy Appeal. We are not just talking about veterans from the Second World War, we are also talking about current Afghanistan soldiers who have been injured or killed.
“Any thefts like this take money away from these very worthy causes so it is very sad to hear about incidents like this.
“I dearly wish that the donations will be returned but I fear that may be too optimistic.
“In any case I hope that they catch whoever’s responsible.”
A Second World War veteran who was collecting for the Poppy Appeal yesterday said: “I can’t understand how anyone could do such a terrible thing.
“I’m disgusted that anyone could stoop so low as to steal a charity collection box.
“The money raised for the Poppy Appeal goes to help those who have put their lives on the line for their country. I am sickened that this is how someone can repay them.”
John Martin Grimshaw, known as Martin, is white, 5ft 11in and of medium build. He has short, dark hair and often has stubble.
Anyone who knows Martin Grimshaw’s whereabouts is asked to call Sussex Police on 101, quoting serial 1596 of 3/12.