Traders are being warned to be extra vigilant after a charity collection box was swiped from a shop counter.
Julia Beswick, owner of the card collection in High Street Teddington, raised the alarm and notified other shops after she discovered the tin was missing from her store on Monday, February 4.
The greeting card and balloon retailer was raising funds for the Teddington Memorial Hospital and said the incident had marred the positive atmosphere brought by the fiver festival taking place in the town.
She said: “It’s rather sad that someone is going round doing that sort of thing.
“We normally get quite a good amount and it was getting towards the end of it so it was fairly heavy.
“It’s a shame with all this good feeling around Teddington at the moment.”