Poppy under pressure: The ultimate poppy box theft

WATCH: Troubling revelations have emerged about a theft at the Calgary Poppy Fund that was never made public. As Tracy Nagai reports, veterans are calling on the organization to be more transparent.

Veterans in Calgary are raising concerns about a theft at the Calgary Poppy Fund more than two years ago that was never made public.

The Calgary Police Service (CPS) confirms officers were called to investigate after a safe was found in an alleyway on Nov. 12, 2015. Inside, officers found cheques written to the Calgary Poppy Fund.

Multiple sources told Global News $15,000 in donations had been reported stolen from the safe, and no arrests were ever made.

Col. (Ret.) Charles Hamel volunteers with several military organizations in Calgary and is deeply concerned about the message it sends that the Calgary Poppy Fund did not come forward.

“If the Calgary Police Service has concluded its investigation, I think the legion has a responsibility to let the public know how much was stolen,” he said.

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Former Calgary Poppy Fund general manager Joey Bleviss, who was let go in December of 2016 after serving as GM for six years, said people whose cheques were photocopied were notified.

“If people called the office they were told about the theft,” he added.

A letter written to Royal Canadian Legion Alberta-NWT Command president Chris Strong in August 2017 showed at least one Calgary veterans’ organization was also left in the dark.

In the letter, Calgary Naval Veterans Association President Paris Sahlen questioned if the crime had even taken place.

“Was the safe stolen?” Sahlen asked. “Was there a loss of poppy funds? What was the result of the police investigation?”

The Royal Canadian Legion, Alberta-NWT Command acts as the caretakers of poppy donations in Alberta.

Strong said he was told by the Calgary Poppy Fund there was an ongoing police investigation into the theft, adding he was unaware the file had wrapped up.

“We were never informed that the investigation is over,” Strong said. “And it wasn’t up to us to make the information public.”

Strong said if the Naval Veterans Association had questions, it could have gone to a poppy committee meeting, where the Calgary Poppy Fund directors would have made information about the theft available.

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Strong added most of the money was insured and provincial command directed the Calgary Poppy office to increase security measures after the incident.

“With minimal losses, I’m not sure what needed to be reported, even now,” Strong said.

“We’re not trying to hide anything and we were asked by the police not to bring this forward.”

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Police confirmed that at the time, the Calgary Poppy Fund was asked not to come forward, but said the file was concluded on May 4, 2016.