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    Police couldn’t get this WWII vet’s stolen money back, so they took up a collection

    MANDATORY CREDIT: WBZ TV 100 year old Waltham veteran Larry Steinfeld.
    WBZ TV
    Larry Steinfeld.

    Waltham police were able to catch the man who stole 100-year-old Larry Steinfeld’s winning lottery tickets, but they couldn’t retrieve the money. Officer Tom Bryant decided that wasn’t good enough.

    With suspect Leslie Torres facing charges for allegedly taking two $50 winners Saturday from the World War II veteran, Bryant took up a collection among fellow officers to replace the lost proceeds. By Thursday, they had raised more than $400.

    “I just felt an affection toward him and for what he has done for the country,” said Bryant. “I thought we could all come together and help him out.”

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    Bryant began working on the case around 8:30 a.m. Feb. 11 when Steinfeld called to report the theft. The officer investigated local convenience stores and discovered that the two tickets had been cashed on Crescent Street, according to police.

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    He then reviewed surveillance footage and was able to identify a suspect, police said.

    Waltham police arrested Torres, 33, for allegedly breaking into Steinfeld’s apartment that Saturday afternoon. Torres lives in the same apartment complex and was charged with breaking and entering, officials said.

    Bryant told Steinfeld that they had caught Torres, but were not able to get the money back, said police.

    “I felt very sad when I had to tell him that I didn’t have his money,” Bryant said. “It seemed like it meant a lot to him.”

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    Bryant returned to the police department and put out an envelope for officers to toss in whatever they could, said police.

    As of Thursday morning, the collection was just over $400, according to Sergeant William Gallant of the Waltham Police Department.

    Sergeant William Gallant praised Bryant’s act of generosity.

    “He was trying to keep it all hush-hush,”Gallant said. “In fact, I think he’s a little disappointed that it’s gotten to the media. He wasn’t looking for notoriety or anything, just to do a good thing.”

    Andrew Grant can be reached at andrew.grant@globe.com.