A 29-year-old man has been charged with the theft of three poppy boxes in the Lethbridge area and authorities believe he could be responsible for a number of similar incidents.

Brendon Lyndon Plaited Hair has been charged with three counts of theft under $5,000 in connection with a trio of incidents, two at Tim Horton’s shops and one at a 7/11 store.

The Legion says that at least 17 boxes went missing from restaurants and stores in the Lethbridge area since the beginning of the month.

The money from those boxes goes to help veterans and dependents in need, provide hospital equipment or pay for community projects.

Pat McIntosh, the chair of the Poppy Campaign in the area, says this year has had the highest number of boxes stolen.

“We had one that was found. They picked loose coins out of the snow and brought it back. They’re being taken, dumped and sometimes recovered but not all of them.”

Rod Sauter, a 20-year member says the incidents are disheartening.

“It’s sad when our world has come to that kind of thing; when people need to take from veterans and all we are trying to do in support of the veterans and the community.”

McIntosh says the Legion is planning on working on some strategies to safeguard the funds in the boxes as well as the businesses that have them on display.

Many businesses already try a number of methods, such as taping the boxes to the counter to prevent them from being taken.

The Legion says there is some good news from this year despite the rash of thefts. The organization says it’s had a generous amount of donations this year.

The Poppy Campaign brought in around $94,000 in each of the past two years and organizers expect to match that amount again this year.

Plaited Hair is expected to appear in court on November 29.

(With files from CTV Lethbridge’s Terry Vogt)