Fountain coin theft bid foiled by coppers

The landmark fountain on Haddington's Court Street. Picture: Toby Williams

The landmark fountain on Haddington's Court Street. Picture: Toby Williams

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WITH a sheriff court just yards away, it was certainly a cheeky place to commit robbery.

Police were called in the early hours of the morning to reports that coppers of a different kind were disappearing from the landmark fountain on Haddington’s Court Street.

They later revealed that almost £29 of change left by passers-by in exchange for good luck had been lifted before their arrival – but quickly managed to recover the cash and threw it back into the water.

The fountain is maintained by East Lothian Council and the funds inside are periodically donated to charity.

Haddington Councillor Ludovic Broun-Lindsay said: “This isn’t the first time this has happened.

“Obviously, it’s very disappointing that people would feel the need to steal coins from a fountain that have been thrown in in good faith.

“It’s usually just coppers that are in there along with the odd 10 pence.

“It is sad but there isn’t any way to stop this happening – I only hope the money was really needed and it might have done them some good.”

The cast iron drinking fountain was categorised as a listed building in 1977. Erected in 1924 and upgraded in 1998, it sits right outside the town’s sheriff court. It is not the first time it has been in the headlines, and in 2009, pranksters filled it with soap powder which led suds to pour on to the High Street.

Jan Wilson, chairwoman of Haddington Community Council said: “What can you say?

“This sort of thing happens on occasion, and I’m not surprised. One time I was at the festival office in the Corn Exchange and saw money being taken out of the fountain.

“I suppose you have to feel a bit sorry for people who would stoop to this level, but when people are stealing from money that will go to charity it is despicable.”

A police spokesman said: “Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with the alleged theft of money from a public fountain.

“Officers responded to Court Street in Haddington at around 2.40am on Thursday following reports that people were standing within the water feature removing coins. Almost £29 in change was recovered and returned to the fountain.

“The men aged 21 and 24 are scheduled to appear in court at a later date.”

An East Lothian Council spokesman said the authority maintained the structure, and the cash was routinely collected and passed to local charities.