Three thefts of poppy donation boxes have taken place at McDonald’s restaurants in Abbotsford over the past week.
Const. Ian MacDonald of the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) said the first theft occurred on Sunday, Nov. 2 at the location in the 31400 block of DeLair Road.
Police were called at about 4:30 a.m. that day by an employee who said it was believed that a man and woman who were in the restaurant took a poppy donation box from the front counter.
Police stopped two people matching the descriptions not far from the scene, and video from the restaurant confirmed they were the pair in question.
Cash consisting of small bills and coins was found on the man, whom MacDonald said is well known to police for prior convictions such as theft and driving while prohibited.
Police have recommended a theft charge against the 26-year-old man, who does not have a fixed address.
A second theft was reported on Wednesday at about noon by staff at the McDonald’s restaurant in the 2100 block of Whatcom Road.
Staff said that a donation box had been taken from the counter, and video indicated a Caucasian woman was responsible.
MacDonald said police are still reviewing that video in hopes of making an arrest.
A third theft, at the McDonald’s in the 2500 block of Clearbrook Road, was reported to the Abbotsford branch of the Royal Canadian Legion on Tuesday.
A Legion volunteer went to pick up donations that had so far been collected, and was informed that the box had gone missing.
Hosking said he was planning to report the theft to police, and it was likely that video footage could also assist in that incident.
He said donations have been up considerably this year, likely in response to the shooting death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo on Oct. 22 at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, and each box could have held as much as $300.
The Abbotsford Legion was also hit by several thefts last year, when a woman posed as a Legion volunteer and collected the boxes from several businesses.
Lisa Marie Goddard of Mission later pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and received a four-month jail sentence, which was lumped in with the six months she had already served on previous theft charges.
The thefts resulted in the Legion changing its protocols for collecting the donation boxes. Volunteers now carry and show identification designating them as Legion representatives, and/or they dress in uniform.
Funds raised from the poppy campaign go into a fund to support veterans with costs such as hearing aids and eyeglasses. It also provides bursaries for their family members and helps support local army and air cadets.
The money raised in Abbotsford stays in the community.
Anyone with information about the recent thefts is asked to contact the APD at 604-859-5225 or text abbypd (222973).