A THIEF has hopped off with a rabbit-shaped topiary from a garden in Southend.

Doug Hoare, of Eastern Esplanade, was devastated to find the rabbit-shaped plant he’s nurtured for the past six years had been stolen overnight.

Doug, a semi-retired chartered engineer, said: “I woke up and it was gone. I was sick as a rabbit!

“I felt quite upset, and I called my sister, my mate and my girlfriend to tell them. It went missing in the early hours.”

Doug says he put a lot of time and effort into shaping the plant, which was a key feature in his front garden.

He said: “I’ve had it for a good six years. It taken ages to grow these things and trim them. You have to buy a wire frame and let it grow, and every time it pokes through the frame, you trim it.

“It’s a lot of hard work that goes into it, so I’m not happy. I chose a rabbit because it’s a good shape and I like rabbits.”

Doug has put a toy rabbit in place of his leafy garden chum and says he’s hopeful about being reunited with it. He said: “It was my one and only rabbit. I’ve replaced it with a little toy rabbit for now, but I’m hoping to get the real thing back!”

If you know the whereabouts of Doug’s rabbit and would like to return it, please get in touch with the Echo.