Anger at poppy cash theft mix-up in Baldock

A man hunted by police for allegedly stealing a Poppy collection box turned out to be innocent. Mark Wallace, 46, of Northfields, Letchworth GC, was later identified through a CCTV picture supplied by Hertfordshire Constabulary to the media. It showed him

A man hunted by police for allegedly stealing a Poppy collection box turned out to be innocent.

Mark Wallace, 46, of Northfields, Letchworth GC, was later identified through a CCTV picture supplied by Hertfordshire Constabulary to the media.

It showed him going into the Tesco store in Baldock minutes before a Royal British Legion collection box vanished.

He was supposed to be collecting the box that had been supplied by the Royal British Legion branch in Knebworth where he is a committee member, but mistakenly picked up the one that had been left in the store by the Baldock branch of the legion.


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Since his picture had been released he says his life has been a misery.

"I've been abused in the street and my wife has been threatened and eggs have been thrown at my car," said unemployed Mr Wallace.

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"I'm innocent and the police say I am innocent and it is no longer being treated as a crime.

"I am a member of the Royal British Legion and was doing my job picking up the collection box I had delivered to the store. When I went back to pick up the box there was only one there but it turned out to be the wrong one and people jumped to the wrong conclusion that the Baldock box had been stolen.

"When Tesco approached me saying said they didn't have enough poppies I took a few spare ones round to them as I only live in Letchworth and also gave them a spare collection box. But we now have all the receipts and the money from the box I picked up has been counted."

Ronald Davies, chairman of the Knebworth branch of the Royal British Legion, said: "It has been a big mistake and nothing was stolen in the first place. We picked up the wrong box, that's all that happened and the police are satisfied there was no crime.

"Police jumped the gun and an apology wouldn't be amiss."

Neighbourhood Inspector for North Herts, Jason Thorne, said: "Following the release of the CCTV images as part of an appeal for information, a man has come forward and we've subsequently identified that no crime has been committed.

"The collection box was picked up in good faith by a representative from the Royal British Legion, who wasn't recognised by the local branch who initially reported a theft.

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