A COMMUNITY has been left shocked after heartless thieves appear to have stolen a Poppy Appeal collection and food bank items from a church.

According to a post on Facebook, which has been widely commented on by residents, the items and money were taken on Monday (October 21) from St Mary's Church in Church Lane, Shinfield.

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The post, written on Tuesday, reads: 'Yesterday dry rice and tomato sauce, which had been left in a box for collecting provisions for the local food bank, had be strewn across the stone floor and around the font, close to the main door.

'When the church was opened this morning it was seen that a collection tin for the Poppy Appeal was missing from the font area.

'The tin had been in place for about 10 days. The value of the contents is unknown.'

One outraged local commented 'Despicable behaviour.'

Another said: 'Seriously I do not know how these people sleep at night doing nasty things like this!'

Armistice Day (November 11) is fast approaching, and with it the annual nation-wide collections have begun.

Money raised from the Poppy Appeal goes towards helping those in the armed services.

Some kind gestures have also come from the incident, with one person commenting: 'I'll pledge £50 for the church to distribute between each cause as they see fit.'

Thames Valley Police have been approached for a comment.