THE mayor of Worcester has condemned the theft of a Poppy Appeal collection tin from a city coffee shop on Armistice Day, after a man was charged by police.

Councillor Allah Ditta said he was “devastated” after hearing of the theft from Costa Coffee in Foregate Street, describing anyone who would “go to such lengths” as “desperate.”

Paul Riley has been charged with stealing the poppy tin, as well as another theft, understood to be from a charity in St Andrews Square, Droitwich.

PC Ian Cadwallander, of Cathedral Safer Neighbourhood Team, said yesterday the 36-year-old, of no fixed abode, has been reported for summons but no court date has yet been confirmed.

A spokesman for the SNT added: “This alleged theft was made even more significant given it was Armistice Day.”

Cllr Ditta said: “Obviously I am devastated that someone would not seek help rather than steal something like this.

“I don’t know [their] circumstances but I am certainly disappointed too that someone has stolen this in this scenario on that day in particular.”

The mayor, who represents Cathedral ward on Worcester City Council, had officially launched the Poppy Appeal outside the guildhall on October 26, alongside Royal British Legion county chairman David Waldron.

He said the appeal helps to bring people together from all backgrounds and religions because “lives were lost from all around” across all conflicts since the First World War.

An offence like this threatens to undermine the sacrifices made and bonds formed since, he added.

Cllr Ditta said he was also disappointed that some people drove past the cathedral during the two minute silence.

A spokesman for the Royal British Legion said: “We are greatly disturbed to hear of the theft of a poppy collecting tin.

“This loss will deprive those in the Service and ex-Service community and their families of much needed assistance and support from the Legion.”

The RBL is the largest Armed Forces charity with 235,000 members, 110,000 volunteers and a network of partners and charities.

The annual Poppy Appeal helps to provide lifelong support to serving and ex-serving personnel and their families, including recovery and rehabilitation