THERE has been mass outrage after two charity boxes were reportedly stolen from shops at Bolton Market.

Staff at Signature Textiles said they were “disgusted” to learn that their collection box for a charity “close to their hearts” had been swiped.

It is thought that more than £100 that had been raised for Annabelle’s Challenge — a charity supporting individuals and families affected by Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) — was taken.

Shop worker Megan Hudson said: “I was absolutely devastated. I started crying when I realised the money had gone.

“I began shouting outside which is when I heard that next door’s donation pot had been taken too.

“All of the traders are angry. It is just not fair.

“I think it is really disgusting that they have taken a charity box that is raising money for an important cause.”

It is thought that more than £100 had been raised by customers of Signature Textiles.

A charity box fundraising for the Royal British Legion was also reported stolen from the Cosy Cafe next door.

Emma Macdonald, who works at the cafe, said: “We are all just completely shocked and upset that someone could stoop so low.”

Staff said they have reported the thefts to the police. They also contacted the security team at Bolton Market to try and trace those responsible but to no avail.

They have captured CCTV footage from the time of the theft, at about 1.10pm on Saturday.

Miss Macdonald said: “It was a busy Saturday lunchtime. I handed a woman a menu and went to serve some other customers. I later realised the poppy appeal box had been taken.”

Miss Hudson said that Signature Textiles was also targeted at lunchtime. “It was during our busiest time of the day”, she said. “I was helping a customer at the time.

“I noticed things were out of place then saw the charity box was gone. It had not been emptied in a few months.”

Miss Hudson, whose mum works closely with Annabelle at Woodbank Primary School in Bury, said: “We know the family quite well and the charity is close to our hearts. Annabelle is an amazing little girl.”

Jared and Sarah Griffin founded Annabelle’s Challenge in their daughter’s name.

Annabelle was diagnosed with Vascular EDS in December, 2012 — an incurable genetic condition which causes collagen deficiency and means she is at daily risk of her internal organs and arteries rupturing.

Mr Griffin said: “It was very disappointing to receive the news that one of our charity pots had been stolen from Signature Textiles in Bolton Market.

“A charity pot typically raises around £70 and whilst we don’t know the exact value of what was stolen, the amount is likely to be the equivalent of us providing two MedicAlert memberships for our patients affected by life-threatening Vascular EDS.”

He added: “I would like to thank the Bolton Market traders, security team and customers for the fast response to Megan’s appeal to identify the persons responsible and offers to replenish the donations lost.”

Greater Manchester Police are investigating.

A police spokeswoman said: "We were called just before 2pm on Saturday to reports that a charity box had been stolen from a market stall before another one was stolen from the café next door.

"Our enquiries remain ongoing."