Astley Bridge residents were left shocked when a thief took off with a poppy ahead of Remembrance Day.

The poppy was displayed on railings at the crossroad of Bar Lane and Broad O’Th Lane before someone was pictured stealing the flower.

The giant poppies are sponsored for £5 each by residents, with all money going to the Royal British Legion.

Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Hilary Fairclough, condemned the actions of the man.

She said: “I have been contacted by people who are appalled, absolutely appalled – it’s shocking that they hold in such low esteem that sacrifice that was made for us to have our freedom.

“This really is the pits of a society where people are getting ready to pay respect to our armed forces and someone is stealing a poppy.

“They’re not worth anything, it’s merely a mark of respect – if he wanted one so badly I would have given him one myself “

Cllr Fairclough would normally handle the paperwork for the scheme, with cllr Paul Wild in charge of putting up the flowers.

Due to cllr Fairclough’s commitments as Mayor and cllr Wild being unwell, the poppies have been put in place by volunteers from the community, including Sandra Schofield and Stuart Laycock from Friends of Astley Bridge.

The poppies are collected by the Friends of Astley Bridge and reused each year to ensure donations for each flower go directly to the charity.

There are normally a few thefts each year, but this is the first time one of the thieves has been caught on camera.

Cllr Fairclough added: “We generally do get a couple stolen each year so we do keep a few back when we can.

“Mrs Schofield will be replacing it first thing on Sunday morning so they can’t be taken before the parade.

“She’s been out in all weathers putting them up, she’s a star.”

There are donations sent in to fund over 400 poppies each year, raising over £2,000 for the Royal British Legion.

The £5 donation allows people to put a poppy up in their name, receiving a certificate for their donation.