Poppy boxes stolen from Tim Hortons, library in Coquitlam, BC

Police are searching for suspects after the thefts of two poppy donation boxes in Coquitlam, B.C. in the span of five days.

Its a crime that has happened again and again over the years. Often all it takes is a second and a thief is able to make off with a box of donations meant to help Canadas veterans.

Its a scene that played out at the Austin Avenue Tim Hortons on Friday. Someone cut a wire meant to secure the box then made off with the proceeds.

Then Tuesday night, Mounties were called to the Coquitlam library on Pinetree Way for a similar report.

"As RCMP were very close to veterans. We march with them every year. This is something we take seriously and, like everybody, want to make sure we get to the bottom of this," Cpl. Michael McLaughlin said.

Poppies are worn to honour veterans leading up to Remembrance Day, but theyre also a way to help them. All donations go toward programs for those who have served.

"We wouldnt have our freedoms today if it wasnt for our veterans. We have to support them," said Laurie Chapman of the Coquitlam Legion.

Collection boxes are improved each year. Some now have zip ties, and some have opaque plastic covers to hide the amount of money inside. Still, the thefts keep happening.

The RCMP said the best ways to avoid snatch-and-grabs are to keep donation boxes away from areas easily reached, and to secure them to a more permanent fixture if possible.

"We thank businesses very much for allowing us to place the boxes in their businesses. We cant expect that theyre going to watch them 24 hours a day," she said.

As a result of the thefts, the Coquitlam Legion will be stepping up collection efforts this week. Chapman said they usually check the boxes every three days, but now theyre checking every day or two.

And on a positive note, a Good Samaritan whod heard about the robberies visited the Legion Wednesday and made a $100 donation.

Officers are looking at surveillance video and photos from the library and the Tim Hortons, hoping to track down the person or people who stole something from those who gave everything.

Police are searching for suspects after the thefts of two poppy donation boxes in Coquitlam, B.C. in the span of five days.

Kim Moran posted to Facebook Tuesday saying she had “lost normal feeling in both of my feet and both of my hands” the day before.

Laurie Chapman, Legion #263s poppy fund chair, told The Tri-City News on Wednesday that the latest theft occurred at the Coquitlam Public Library City Centre branch Tuesday night. She said anywhere from $100 to $200 could have been in the container when it was taken.

“The money is for the veterans that fought for us to have what we have today,” she said Wednesday afternoon. “I find it quite disgusting that someone would take that money.”

Donations collected go toward assisting veterans and their families, Chapman added. And while the Coquitlam RCMP has been notified, she is not holding out much hope that the legion will be able to get the money back.

Last Friday, several people walked off with a poppy container at the Tim Hortons in Austin Heights at around 4:16 a.m.

At first, employees at the coffee shop were aware of the theft, but did not report it to police, with the legion only finding out on Monday about the incident. The police have since been notified and Chapman said she has been in discussions with Tim Hortons head office about retrieving the surveillance footage to get a better description of the perpetrators. 

She added there is not much that can be done to protect the boxes, which are placed at various locations in the lead up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.

“Short of a lock and chain, I dont think so,” she said. “That would be an unrealistic expectation.”

After reading reports about the initial theft at Tim Hortons this week, Chapman said a person visited the legion and offered up a sizable donation.