Outrage as thieves steal Poppy Appeal collection

Jo Knight outside her Billingshurst shop where a charity box for the Poppy Appeal was stolen. Pic Steve Robards   SR1633560 SUS-160911-133641001
Jo Knight outside her Billingshurst shop where a charity box for the Poppy Appeal was stolen. Pic Steve Robards SR1633560 SUS-160911-133641001
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An outraged shop owner has been left incensed by thieves who stole a Royal British Legion charity box, a week before Armistice Day.

Willow clothing store in High Street, Billingshurst, was targeted by a group of thieves on Friday November 4, who took the box collecting money for the charity’s annual Poppy Appeal.

I was incensed when the charity collection box was stolen. Everybody is outraged and shocked really that this has happened.

Jo Knight

Police said the theft took place at about 1.30pm. One of the staff members was distracted by a suspect and it is believed the box was swiped while they were dealing with their request, officers added.

Jo Knight, owner of the store, said: “I was incensed when the charity collection box was stolen. Everybody is outraged and shocked really that this has happened.

“It is a really lovely village shop with great customers and lots of loyal customers and we treat everybody with respect. Unfortunately they knew exactly what they wanted to do.”

The store has also been offering customers a chance to buy special crocheted poppies created by Kirdford resident Gaye Harris.

“She has put a lot of work into making these special poppies,” Jo said. “We had been doing really well and everybody had been so generous.”

It is not known how much money was in the box at the time but Jo said she had been amazed by the response from customers since.

She said: “There has been such a good reaction. We had lots of people coming in the next day putting money in the donation box.”

She encouraged other shop owners in the area to report any thefts around that time.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “One woman suspect is described as 5’ 2”, middle aged, of large build, with black hair in a bun and dark olive skin. She was wearing a long black and white skirt and a pale pink fleece and was carrying a black bag.

“A man suspect who was with the woman is described as 5’ 3”, middle aged, thick set, of Eastern European appearance and spoke in a foreign language.

“They were accompanied by a boy aged about 17, with olive skin, dark hair and eyebrows, and wearing a parka with a false fur hood.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

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