A BRAZEN thief nabbed a life-sized Betty Boop statue from a restaurant and ran off... balancing the six-foot figure over his shoulder.

The iconic character was stolen from Grumpy’s Diner, in Southchurch Road, Southend with bosses left gutted but able to see the funny side too.

CCTV from the eatery showed the crook throwing the sex symbol, who is loved by diners, over his shoulder and bundling her into a car.

Kerry Malone, 34, co-owner of the restaurant said families love having their photo taken with Betty.

She said: “She’s not as heavy as she looks, I own the restaurant with my brother and he thought it was hilarious that someone would take her.

“We were shut and she was left outside, it’s kind of funny but also gutting that someone’s taken her as kids love having their photo taken with Betty and she’s a talking piece.

“She was taken on Tuesday and we put it on Facebook as we hope whoever took her would return Betty as it’s all over social media.

“I don’t think they will be that honest but I don’t think they will be able to sell her. When we watched the CCTV it was funny seeing him put her over his shoulder and balance her.

“She’s been with us since the beginning and we will be looking to replace her if we do not get her back. But it won’t be easy to find a replacement.”

More than 500 people shared the boss’ appeal on Facebook with more than 40 leaving kind comments.

Ms Malone said the support means such a lot, especially at a time of uncertainly due to the coronavirus.

She said: “The response on Facebook has been amazing and I am shocked by the response with lots of people saying they will try and help to find her.

“It’s been fantastic and it’s very heartwarming especially with everything going on.

“It’s good to see people will still support small businesses and do care.”

The bosses appealed for information on Facebook and are offering a reward for any information leading to her safe return.

In the post, it said: “Please share this and spread the word.”

In a bid to solve the crime themselves, they have tried contacting all the secondhand shops in London.

Reacting to the news by the American-themed diner one loyal customer said: “Oh my gosh my daughter absolutely loved that and she’s going to be crushed.

“That thing must weigh a ton - how the hell did they take it? Surely someone saw something.”

Another said: “I’d definitely share the footage, there’s less chance of people behaving like this if they think they might be publicly shamed for it.

“If it’s teenagers the parents need to know about it and if it’s adults then other businesses at least know who to look out for.”

Another loyal customer of the diner said: “Seriously, what is wrong with people? Hope it gets returned.”

The bosses said they decided not to share the CCTV footage as they hope it will be returned soon.

Anyone with an information should call the restaurant on 01702 616831.