This is the moment a thief snatched a Poppy Appeal charity tin from inside a popular Essex restaurant just seconds before customers walked in.
Wearing dark clothing with a hood pulled above his head, a man is shown walking into Mangetout Grill and Smokehouse in Southend before lurking around the restaurant’s foyer.
The crook made several glances over his shoulder as diners eat in the restaurant before he unzipped a blue bag and dropped the collection tin inside.
The theft took place just seconds before customers walked inside the restaurant almost catching him in the act.
The CCTV was posted by restaurant bosses on the bistro’s Facebook page as part of an appeal to circulate the footage to track down the thief.
According to the post, the theft took place on Saturday at around 7.45pm.
A caption read: “This clip is from Saturday night at Mangetout.
“We think the video speaks for itself. Please SHARE and be vigilant, whether an employee or customer, so that we can try to stop such horrible actions re-occurring; especially as we enter the festive season!”
Mickey Glenister, social media manager at the restaurant told the Southend Echo: “It is really sad to think somebody would do this, particularly for a charity which does so much good.
“We have released the footage to try and catch whoever is responsible for this and to remind other businesses to be on their guard.”
The 32-year-old added: “We’ve heard this has happened to a few businesses, it’s horrible to think somebody would go so low and do this.”
The incident sparked a furious reaction on the restaurant’s Facebook page as thousands shared the footage online.
Alan Manson posted: “This is shocking that someone could blatantly walk in and steal from under everyones noses but worse still it disrespects the people who gave their lives for ours….hope they catch them as plenty of CCTV around Southend for the police to trace them.”
While Kristöf Holméz wrote: “Beggars belief a charity box would be left unchained out of the view of staff like this right on top of the entrance. This day in age it should be chained as an absolute minimum. I know we shouldn’t have to but that’s just how it is I’m afraid.”
The Standard has approached Essex Police to see if the theft is being investigated.