German national Jorge Buyukyoaidis, 54, has been jailed for 10 weeks after he stole poppy collection tins
A German national who stole seven poppy collection tins, including one on Remembrance Day, has been jailed for 10 weeks.
Jorge Buyukyoaidis, 54, stole the charity collection boxes from across London between September and November.
Sentencing him to jail over Christmas, the judge told him that the thefts were aggravated because it was charity he was stealing from.
Westminster Magistrates Court was told that heroin addict Buyukyoaidis arrived in the UK three months ago to find work, but had failed and was homeless.
District Judge Richard Blake said: ‘People donate money to charities on the basis that they are helping people.
‘You have denied them that, and you have denied the charities and you have gone and given that money to drug dealers instead.
‘Because I consider that this was a targeted theft of charity boxes, so it is an aggravated offence.’
Delivering the sentence, Judge Blake added: ‘You will be custody for Christmas, and you will not be preying on charity boxes.’
He was charged with eight counts of theft of charity collection tins, seven belonging to the Royal British Legion between September 13 and November 21 and one of attempted theft.
He was eventually arrested at a Metro Bank, attempting to exchange £36 of loose coins for larger denominations, after police had identified him as a suspect from CCTV footage.
The court was told that after arriving in London from Germany three months ago, Buyukyoaidis had initially looked for work, before becoming homeless after losing his bankcard and passport.
The heroin addict quickly turned to theft – stealing charity collection tins from a number of shops and businesses.
Buyukyoaidis stealing a poppy collection tin from the reception of the St Botolph Building, Houndsditch London on November 11, Armistice Day
Although the total amount of money he recouped from the thefts is unclear, police believe it is unlikely to have exceeded £200.
Appearing at Westminster Magistrate’s Court today dressed in a grey tracksuit and a blue gilet, Buyukyoaidis spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth, and to enter a guilty plea.
Representing Buyukyoaidis, Bridget Irving argued that he has a ‘good character’ and noted that he had no existing convictions in this country – although it was not checked if he has previous in Germany.
She said: ‘He came here three months ago to look for work. Since then, he has been street homeless.
‘He has been unable to get home, and what he wants to do is return home to Germany.
‘It is do with a heroin addiction. He intends to return to Germany to undertake a methadone programme, which he has previously been prescribed by a GP there.’
Miss Irving added that there was little point handing Buyukyoaidis a community order, because he plans to ‘go to the embassy to sort out his passport’ as soon as possible.
She said: ‘He has a drug problem and he is homeless. As soon as possible, he will sort out his passport and go home.’
He was given a ten-week prison sentence – five of which he was deemed to have already served – meaning he will remain in custody over Christmas.
Sergeant Bruce Howell from the City of London Police said: ‘This was a despicable crime, stealing money donated by the public to charities.
‘At a time when most of us mark Remembrance Day, this man stole seven collection boxes intended for the Royal British Legion.
‘One of these collection boxes was stolen on Armistice Day itself.
‘Buyukyoaidis stole a further charity box and attempted to steal a ninth box: it’s clear that he intended to continue to prey on charities.
‘The sentence today sends a message that people who come to the City to steal will be identified and swiftly arrested.’