A ‘DISGRACEFUL’ thief swiped charity poppies from lampposts before he was challenged by an appalled resident.

Volunteers have been busy decorating areas of Harwood, Bromley Cross, Bradshaw and Astley Bridge throughout this week to raise money for the British Legion poppy appeal in the build up to Remembrance Day.

On Wednesday, one man took two of the poppies from Darwen Road before driving off in his van.

Cllr David Greenhalgh was stopped by a woman on Darwen Road when he was out collecting money on Wednesday.

She told him that she had seen a man in a red Transit van take two of the poppies down from lampposts on Darwen Road, outside the former Hollands Garden Centre.

The woman had followed the man in her car down a cul de sac in nearby Queens Avenue, where she confronted him.

The driver told the woman ‘not me love’ before speeding off again, even though she could see the poppies on the van’s dashboard.

Cllr Greenhalgh said the middle-aged woman was ‘incensed’ by what she had seen so had taken action and followed him.

Volunteers had been out in the morning decorating the lampposts and Cllr Greenhalgh was collecting money from businesses which had sponsored a poppy when the woman pulled her car over to speak to him.

Cllr Greenhalgh was willing to forgive what the man had done if the poppies had returned but has now contacted a PCSO to report the theft and pass on details about the vehicle.

He said: “We are now working with the police, that is the action we are taking.

“It is disgraceful. I am absolutely disgusted.”

Cllr Greenhalgh said they originally suspected he lived locally but now thinks that the man had seen the woman following him so had tried to lose her down a side street.

Despite the actions of one man, Cllr Greenhalgh is staying positive about the poppy campaign and people’s response to it.

Businesses or residents pay £5 for a poppy to go on a lamppost.

Cllr Greenhalgh said: “It is going really well. Blackburn Road, Darwen Road and Turton Road are all decorated. We have done more than 300 poppies and we are well on our way to 400.”

People can still sponsor a poppy by contacting Cllr Greenhalgh on david.greenhalgh@bolton.gov.uk or by calling 07813386415.