A poppy collector has blasted the "lowest of the low" burglar who broke into a car and stole a money collection box.

David Stephens, of Wards Road, Ilford, says one of his colleagues woke up on Monday morning to find the Royal British Legion's carton gone.

The thief seemingly opened the boot of the car, parked in Merton Road, broke the seal and stole the money.

Mr Stephens organises collections on behalf of the 4F Ilford Squadron RAF Air Cadets in the run up to Armistice Day on November 11.

He said: "I got a phone call from the collector first thing this morning. He was upset because he was responsible for looking after the money.

"It's a shame because it's not us suffering, it is the sick and injured ex-servicemen we are trying to raise money for.

"Why would someone do that? Stealing collected money is tantamount to stealing our support for those who richly deserve it.

"They are the lowest of the low."

He does not know how much money was raised as the poppy appeal was only launched on Saturday.

But groups had spent the day collecting money around Newbury Park, meaning their hard work has been for nothing.

"Luckily this means it won't have been a great sum, but it's not the point," said Mr Stephens, the civilian committee chairman for the cadets.

Undeterred, however, the cadets are planning to continue raising money over the next two weeks to make good on the loss.

This is the first time anything like this has happened and the group sells poppies every year.

Mr Stephens added: "I am very angry. There is no need for that."

The cadets will parade at the Ilford War Memorial, near Newbury Park Station, on the morning of Sunday, November 11 to mark 100 years since the end of World War One.

Police are investigating.