A SCOUT group was left stunned after a fundraising Christmas post box full of festive cards and donations to their group was stolen from a church.

The box was installed at St Edmunds in Abingdon by Scouts and Guides who are running their annual Christmas postal service in the town.

Over the past month, churchgoers had posted dozens of cards along with 25p donations, but last Monday morning it was discovered that the box was gone.

Judith Penrose Brown, chairwoman of Thames Ridge District Scout Council and who lives in Abingdon, said: “People are shocked.

“Someone just rang me up on Monday to say ‘I’ve just been into St Edmunds and can’t see the box anywhere’.

“It was bad enough we had one of the boxes pinched, which is awful, but what makes it worse is it was from St Edmunds Church.

“It’s an awful Christmas story.”

Like others in Oxfordshire, The Abingdon Scouts and Guides have been running their fundraising Christmas post service for years.

Boxes are distributed throughout the town and in Radley and Shippon, and Scouts and Guides deliver cards in those parishes.

This year they put out all their post boxes on November 13 and were planning to collect them all then go out on their deliveries today.

Now they have been left to search for the stolen post and the valuable donations which go towards the district’s outings and equipment.

Mrs Penrose Brown said she reported the theft to police on Friday and was waiting to hear back.

She added: "The principal reason behind doing the post is it's part of our community service.

"The money has disappeared but the important thing is people have posted all their cards for the scouts to deliver and I just think it’s awful.

"The thing we're really sorry about is we won't be able to deliver the cards that have disappeared.

"We are really upset that people have paid their 25p per card to get their cards delivered and now we won't be able to."

The theft from the Scouts comes days after a thief made off with a charity collection tin in Wallingford.

Police released CCTV images of a man they wanted to speak to in connection with the stolen poppy collection box from the Esso Service Station in Station Road in November.

Mrs Penrose Brown asked anyone who wanted to help with the search for the stolen post box to get in touch with the local group via scouts.org.uk or call police on non-emergency number 101 with information.