An elderly RSA veteran collecting poppy money for the Hobsonville RSA has been robbed of more than $300 in a snatch-and-run robbery.
RSA president Geoff Polglase has slammed as a "despicable act" the theft, which happened yesterday afternoon outside Westgate Countdown.
Veteran Eelze De Roo, 81, said he was shocked when a young bloke approached the table from which he was collecting donations and giving away poppies, snatched up his money container and took off.
Not one to give up without a fight, De Roo raced after him.
But the pursuit was short-lived.
"He was too fast for me," the veteran said.
"I couldn't keep up with him. I chased him halfway across the carpark but I couldn't catch up."
De Roo was stationed outside the supermarket in the afternoon, after swapping with another collector around midday.
The unusually full bucket had collected most of the day's donations before the thieves struck.
Therefore, by the time the brazen robbery happened, $300 to $500 was sitting in the container.
The incident was upsetting, De Roo said.
It wasn't the first time the veteran had been targeted while collecting for the organisation, either.
About eight years ago he was robbed when collecting for Poppy Day in Hillsborough.
Polglase said the RSA had received reports that suspicious people had been floating around the area during the day.
"Older teens or people in their 20s, who fit the description of the people who carried out the robbery," he said.
"I guess they were probably casing out their plan."
Police later found the container near the toilets at Westgate.
"It was essentially a snatch-and-run," Polglase said.
"It's pretty rude."
Polglase said De Roo was "pretty upset" about the whole ordeal.
The matter had been reported to police, who are investigating.
"We always trade on the fact the veterans are respected, and given that respect, when they're out and about collecting," Polglase said.
However, the president didn't think the incident represented the public's attitude towards RSA veterans, or the organisation's poppy collection.
"I would just say it's a despicable act, as opposed to representing public view."
"I can tell you the public since that's happened have been absolutely amazing."
Westgate Shopping Centre and Countdown Westgate each donated $500 to make up the amount stolen, while another member of the public was donating a printed Anzac shirt to the collector targeted in the robbery.
A Countdown spokeswoman said it was "incredibly disappointing and upsetting".
"We haven't experienced anything like this happening with other charity collectors at this store, and want to continue to support charities."
Polglase was thrilled by the kind response of the businesses.
"After dwelling on the negative yesterday it makes my heart sing, that this kind of thing goes on."
Polglase thought the incident might have woken people up to the amount of time and effort some veterans and other volunteers put into fundraising for the RSA.