07:19AM, Thursday 01 March 2012
Heartless crooks have targeted an 89-year-old Navy veteran while he was selling newspapers in Maidenhead High Street.
Major John 'Mervyn' Evans was outside Boots on Friday morning when some cash and a CD player were stolen from him.
They were inside a green bag hanging from the Salvation Army (SA) officer's wheelchair.
The great-grandfather of two has been selling SA paper The War Cry for 20 years and was left feeling 'pretty rotten' by the experience.
"It makes you feel bad that people would do that," he said.
While selling the paper - the strapline for which is 'fighting for hearts and souls' - each Friday morning Major Evans plays brass band hymn music from a small portable CD player.
He kept a spare one in his bag, which was stolen along with a CD left in it.
"I was sorry about the CD that went. It was a Bristol brass band and a favourite of mine," he said.
Also taken were a few pounds worth of change which had been donated.
A former member of the Navy, Major Evans looked after Seafire planes in the Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War.
He and his wife Mary moved to Maidenhead when he retired in 1987 and joined the Salvation Army Church in East Road.
The father-of-two and grandfather-of-three was widowed seven years ago and uses a wheelchair because injuries he received in an accident years ago are 'catching up' with him.
But he often stands in the High Street while he sells the paper and was standing when the thieves struck.
The theft has been reported to police and was described by town centre Sergeant Michael Welford as 'despicable' and enough to 'leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth'.
Although Major Evans knows it is unlikely he'll be reunited with his bag he did have a message for the thieves.
"If they brought it back we would say no more about it," he said.
"But I hope they feel bad."
Contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
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