Poppy seller has phone stolen while taking donations as he says collecting is ‘a lot more dangerous’ this year
A veteran has told how he had his phone stolen while poppy selling as he said collecting was ‘a lot more dangerous’ this year.
John O’Rourke, Chairman of the Royal British Legion for Thamesmead and Abbey Wood, took over a poppy stand at Abbey Wood station on October 26 at around 10am before his wife arrived an hour later.
The 76-year-old had left to go to the toilet – leaving his wife to supervise the stall – when the thief struck.
He told LBC: ‘She was distracted by an individual who pulled my bag underneath the railing. Then he dropped a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates on the floor, distracted her and as she’s turned around, he’s come through the barrier, grabbed my phone off the table and was gone.
‘The bag was thrown outside and was found by a member of staff and handed into the station. The station manager caught him doing everything on CCTV.’
John O’Rourke, Chairman of the Royal British Legion for Thamesmead and Abbey Wood, had his phone stolen while he was selling poppies
Mr O’Rourke with Councilor Dominic Mbang in At Abbey Wood station
Mr O’Rourke said similar incident occurred yesterday when a woman tried to steal a collection box before a volunteer fought her off.
READ MORE – Where YOU can support the poppy sellers: Interactive map shows where collectors are operating
He added: ‘It’s a lot more dangerous than it was before.
‘This year in particular I’ve noticed they hang around outside the door and wait and watch their opportunities.’
Despite the disturbing incident there remains strong support for poppy sellers among the public.
Maggie Davies, 80, who has been selling poppies for years and served six years in the Royal Airforce, said she had been making £1,000 a day.
She said: ‘We probably take in £1,000 a day. People are very generous. We took £700 in two hours yesterday.
‘I am ex-Royal Airforce. I was with them for six years. I also was in the territorial army when I was a girl.
‘I am making the march on the Cenotaph tomorrow.’
Jane Low, 80, who has been selling poppies for five years said:
‘I do it because we have a military background in my family. My uncle got the Cross and Bar in Tripoli in 1943. I have been to Tripoli and seen his grave.’
Despite the disturbing incident there remains strong support for poppy sellers among the public. Jane Low and Maggie Davies are seen selling poppies in London today
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