BAFFLED volunteers were mystified to discover a thief had stolen signs for their charity event in an effort to sabotage the event.

Volunteers placed placards around Hartlebury advertising the Christmas Tree Festival hosted by the village's Women's Institute.

The event is raising funds for HELP, a charity based in Kidderminster supporting those in need, as well as people who are homeless.

The next morning more than half had vanished, with some thrown over hedges into fields, and another pair, at the top of Station Road, placed together and hidden behind an electricity substation.

The incident was reported to West Mercia Police and villagers believe the road signs have been deliberately targeted in a bizarre attack.

Dawn Bradley, president of the Harltebury WI, said: “It’s unbelievable that someone would want to sabotage the Christmas Tree Festival, which not only raises money for a good cause but is a free event enjoyed by many local people.

"All the local WI members are going to keep an eye on the signs as we replace them and several local dog walkers who are out late at night have said they will keep an eye out for suspicious activity”. 

Villagers who live near the signs are also checking their video doorbell and security cameras to see if they have picked up any footage that would reveal the culprit.

“We won’t let this stop us, we’re looking forward to seeing people at the church on Friday evening and in the day on Saturday”.

Signtech, in Stourport, printed the original posters and said it was "horrible" to hear that the posters were taken down.

A spokesperson said: “It’s really terrible to hear what has happened. To do this, especially to an event that will raise money for charity is horrible.

"We are going to print more signs for the WI in Hartlebury to make sure the event gets the publicity it deserves.”

The festival is being held on Friday, December 1 and Saturday, December 2, at St James Church on Quarry Bank in Hartlebury.

One of more than 30 trees decorated by local businesses, organisations and charities is made of warm bobble hats. 

After the festival finishes, the tree will be dismantled and the hats will be given to HELP.