POLICE have arrested a 36-year-old man following a spate of poppy collection tin thefts.

The man, from Wychbold, was arrested in relation to five thefts in the village, as well as Droitwich, over a period of eight days.

Poppy tins were stolen from Wychbold Post Office and the nearby Holiday Inn Express, as well as a Travelodge, Ron’s News and a town centre hair salon.

The poppy collection tin was taken from the counter of the Post Office on Worcester Road sometime between 9am on November 4 and 9am on November 6.

Two days later, the Travelodge in Rashwood Hill was targeted, two days before a man entered Ron’s News on Queen Street and swiped the tin while the shopkeeper’s back was turned. He then made off on a pushbike.

The following day, a man went into a High Street hair salon, and ‘was asking about nails’ before grabbing the collection tin and leaving.

Sergeant Sarah Kent, of West Mercia Police, said: “They chased after him and he ditched the money tin and ran off, and then cycled off on a lady’s bike.”

The tin was recovered and taken for forensic examination.

Sgt Kent said the descriptions given at the newsagents and salon were ‘very very similar’, and both occurred at around 11am.

“And again on the bike, so I'm happy that this is the same person,” she added.

Staff at the Holiday Inn Express on Worcester Road described the thief to police as a ‘man in a black coat and black hat’, who took the collection tin at around 12.15pm.

“He walked towards reception and when he walked away it had gone,” said Sgt Kent.

It is unclear how much money was in the collection tins at the time of each theft.

Asked how regular of an occurrence it is to have poppy collection tins stolen, the sergeant said: “Every year we might get the odd one go.

“Or you get people who are sort of pretending they're the official collectors, and staff just hand it over voluntarily.”

But she said a spate like this is ‘more than unusual’.

The man has been released under investigation, and police are appealing for any other premises who have had collection tins stolen to report them on 101.