CALLOUS crooks stole poppy collections on Remembrance Sunday.

It is believed the pair targeted three different shops in Hockley and Rochford in one hour - distracting shop staff then snatching the collection boxes.

Costcutter in Main Road, Hockley, was the first to be hit at 1.20pm when the man and woman entered the shop and approached the counter.

CCTV shows the man distracted the cashier while his female accomplice brazenly lifted the Poppy Appeal tin and stuffed it into her bag. It is believed to contain between £150 and £200.

Police are linking this theft to another at 2pm in Spar at West Street, Rochford, and a third at Sanders food and wine shop in Ashingdon Road, Rochford at 2.30pm.

The suspects are described as Asian, in their late twenties or early thirties and both dressed in black.

Anyone with information should call the Rayleigh area investigation team on 101.

Full story and interviews in tomorrow's Echo.