Thieves steal £1,500 collection from 84-year-old veteran as he sold Remembrance Day poppies.

Image: MOD

Thugs stole a £1,500 collection from under the nose of a 84-year-old Coldstream Guards veteran as he sold poppies in a shopping centre.

Maurice Bastable was selling Remembrance Day poppies in his full uniform when he was unwittingly approached by three people.

After making off with two cash boxes, the two men and a woman returned once again to steal another tin, which had a combined £1,500 worth of donations inside.

Mr Bastable, who has sold poppies on behalf of the British Legion for 12 years, said police had later tracked down the thieves with the help of CCTV.

The veteran described the thugs as the biggest 'scumbags of the earth' and said it was 'sad' that collectors now had to put chains on cash boxes.

Speaking from his home in Basingstoke, Hampshire, he said: 'I was very shaken up, as you can well imagine.

'We all know thieving goes on all over the country but it has never happened to me in the 12 years I've been collecting from the public.' 

Mr Bastable had been selling the poppies in Festival Place, Basingstoke, on Saturday when the thieves struck and stole all the charity takings from the day.