THIEVES targeted poppy collection boxes over the weekend, with two stolen from Malvern and from Wychbold, near Droitwich.

The thieves have been branded as 'disgusting' by a prominent ex-serviceman.

Police confirmed that the Royal British Legion collection box was taken from Great Malvern Priory between 1.45pm and 2.05pm on Sunday.

And another box was stolen from the counter of the Wychbold Village Stores some time on Saturday or Sunday.

Jeff King, a former able seaman with the Royal Navy where he served aboard HMS Newcastle in Korea, urged the thieves to bring back the boxes as soon as possible and display some compassion for the wounded ex-servicemen and women the Poppy Appeal is designed to help.

Mr King, president of Evesham Royal British Legion, said: "It's pretty disgusting that these people should be taking away from those who fought for their freedom.

"They must see pictures of the people that have been injured during conflicts, people coming back from Afghanistan with their legs blown off."

Mr King said such thefts were fortunately rare and he urged the people who took the boxes to return it as soon as possible.

He added: "If they plucked up the courage to steal it, they can can pluck up a bit more to return it. If only they would consider the people they're taking this money from."

Also over the weekend, a poppy collection box was stolen from the village shop and post office at Wychbold, near Droitwich.

A spokesman for the local British Legion branch, who did not want to be named, said: "The box was on the counter of the store,behind a tray of poppies and someone just took it.

"The last time we had a box stolen was about 12 years ago. It's not very good when something like this happens. People are pretty angry about this."

Police are urging anyone with information on the thefts to contact them on 101, quoting incident numbers 368s of November 5 (Malvern), or 181s of November 6 (Wychbold).