Bosses at the Royal British Legion have been left devastated after callous thieves made off with a container filled with 6,000 poppies, medals and other memorial items.
The 20ft container was taken from the private grounds of the charity at the Ordsall District Centre in Greater Manchester – and was being filled up for the November remembrance commemorations.
Police have said the thieves would have needed a large vehicle with lifting equipment to remove the item, said Det Sgt Julie Connor of Salford CID.
The detective said that the culprits had hit those who dedicated their lives to the service of their country – including the families of those who had died on operations.
She added: “The proceeds of the Poppy Appeal are used to support our soldiers in personal recovery centres for injured soldiers, welfare support for serving and ex- soldiers and those injured while on duty.
“This crime will directly affect those personnel who dedicate their lives to serving our country and it is essential we recover everything.”
In addition to poppies and collecting tins, the container was also filled with poppy crosses, appeal wristbands, high visibility jackets, British Legion and union flags and memorabilia such as war memorial plaques.
Branch president of the Salford Royal British Legion Alan Mottershead told the BBC: "They can keep the container, we just want the memorabilia and the poppies back.