CALLOUS thieves have broken into Colne Market and stolen Poppy Appeal and Help for Heroes charity boxes.

The burglars broke into the market hall, in Market Street, in the early hours of Saturday morning, gaining entry through a window at the back.

Officers said it is believed they made a makeshift ladder out of building materials left in an adjacent building.

The thieves ransacked several stalls, stealing laptops, mobile phones, and several charity boxes, police said.

“Picture Painter Man” Shaun Wright, 50, an artist who has a stall on the market, had several charity boxes stolen from his stall, as well as two laptops and a mobile phone.

Shuan had worked with other traders to create a commemorative wall in the market, for people to share memories from the Great War.

Vistors to the market have been leaving pictures on the wall, and making donations to a Poppy Appeal tin, which was secured to Shaun’s stall, to mark the centenary of the First World War.

Thieves stole the Poppy Appeal tin, which contained several hundred pounds, as well as a Help for Heroes tin, and a laptop, which was used to project images as part of an exhibition about the War.

Shaun said: “They’re scumbags, I hope they get what they deserve.

“They ought to be sent to the frontline in Afghanistan, instead of to prison.

“We are starting a secure collection again, and any donations would be most welcome.”

Police have now launched an investigation and are appealing for anyone with information to contact them.

Insp Bob Eaton of Lancashire police said: “Scene of crime officers and been, and the crimes are being investigated.”

Anyone with information should call 101.