ANGRY Charlie Ashdown has branded a pair of thieves who stole money from a big wooden charity collecting box outside his house as "the scum of the earth."

Charlie, who lives at the junction of St John's Road and Fernhill Road in Cove, runs a business called Christmas Expectations selling Christmas lights and decorations. Each year he has used his home as a brightly lit showhouse and this year he decided to combine this with an appeal for the Portage service for children with special needs and the baby unit at Frimley Park Hospital.

A six-foot tall, sealed wooden cone was set up outside so that passers-by could contribute. But at 3 am on Saturday the thieves knocked it over and were seen by an elderly neighbour helping themselves to cash.

A fuming Charlie said that despite a call to the police no one came and he had to contact them again later that morning. He was told they had had to go to another incident. In the meantime the thieves had been back for a second helping.

Although he does not know how much the robbers took Charlie says that despite the loss more than £1000 has been raised. He found a trail of coppers leading into nearby Birchett Road where they had apparently had a share out under a lamppost.

The elderly neighbour reported that the villains were wearing shoes rather than the usual trainers. He thinks this may mean that they were returning home from a nightclub.

"If anyone has any idea who these Herberts are I hope they will tell Farnborough police," he said. "It is despicable to rob babies and children."