War vet cops bust alleged poppy thief

Vic Wilcox, poppy chair for Royal Canadian Legion Branch 4 in Welland, ON, holds a box of poppies.



TORONTO — Two cops who served their country overseas tracked down an alleged poppy-box bandit wanted for a string of downtown robberies last week.

And while the Toronto Police Services officers are "relieved" to have recovered some of the cash earmarked for their fellow veterans, they still can't believe anyone would steal from Canadians who have put their lives on the line for our freedoms.

"It's probably the worst kind of theft," Det.-Const. Robert Romano, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, said Monday. "Stealing donation boxes in general is pretty low."

Romano and Det.-Const. Ed Otten, a Bosnian war vet, are among four officers from who began investigating Friday after numerous poppy donation boxes were swiped.

After viewing security cameras footage from a Tim Hortons where one of the thefts occurred, a suspect was identified, he explained.

Nicholas Moorehouse, 34, of no fixed address, was arrested Friday night. He was allegedly in possession of a donation boxes containing $45.

Romano said it's alleged the accused man also stole poppy boxes from two other Tim's locations and from St. Micheal's Hospital.

Moorehouse is charged with four counts of theft under $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime.

Ashish Roy, 33, of Brampton, was also arrested at the same time. He's charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking in cocaine and possession of proceeds of crime.

Earlier Friday, before Moorehouse and Roy were arrested, another man was in court for charges connected to a second series of poppy-box thefts leading up to Remembrance Day.

Christopher Ethier, 31, was arrested Thursday for allegedly snatching donation boxes from the counters of three businesses in the city's west end.

Police claim $282, believed to be from the stolen poppy boxes, was seized during his arrest.

Ethier is charged with three counts each of theft under $5,000, possessing property obtained by crime and failing to comply with probation.

All three accused remain in custody awaiting court appearances.
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