A THIEF casually strode out of a newsagents after stealing a Poppy Appeal collection box.

The brazen act took place at Percivals, in the Longfield Centre, last Monday, after the culprit had yanked free the collection box, which had been chained to the counter.

He is then thought to have hidden it under his jacket, before leaving the shop.

CCTV footage from a neighbouring shop shows the man, who is described as white and in his mid 30s, calmly exiting the shop before a shop assistant chases after him.

The shop's owner, Nick Wood, said: "This guy came in and saw his opportunity to grab hold of the Poppy Appeal box and just yanked it away.

"He walked out of the shop and got it out of his jacket.

"My assistant chased after him and he ran along past the Longfield Suite, I assume towards the Metrolink."

Mr Wood, whose father was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for his service as a rear gunner in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, estimates that there was about £80 worth of donations taken from the box.

"People were putting £10 notes and £2 coins in there," he said.

"It is disgraceful, especially around the centenary of the end of the First World War. These people fought and risked their lives for us.

"I just hope the police manage to catch the guy. He needs naming and shaming."

The incident came just days after two charity boxes, including one for the Royal British Legion, were reportedly stolen from shops at Bolton Market.

Jamie Bomszytk, who owns The Vape Store, which is also based in the Longfield Centre, has since set up a JustGiving page in a bid to raise money to replace what was stolen. So far, more than £200 has been donated.

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stolenfundspoppy?fbclid=IwAR3txuLo8YlYlWfWjS05eE7ECmC41iXxopWTbkIxdtef2bU5cl4ISmd9a1U.