A gang of thieves have stolen around 300 Christmas trees from a family-run business in Wimbledon - the night before it reopened for the first time since lockdown began.

The 'brazen' thieves were caught on CCTV on Friday, November 27, backing a van up to the gate of the compound belonging to Pines & Needles in Wimbledon Park, south west London.

Neighbours then called the police and described watching the men "decimating" the Christmas stock, making several journeys with vans full of trees.

Shop owner Josh Lyle said he had been left "sickened" by the theft on the eve of reopening, but thinks the bright festive lighting might help illuminate the culprits in CCTV footage now released by police.

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"We have been hammered already this year because of COVID and now, just as we were given the green light to sell to the public, a bunch of thieves decide to help themselves to more than £3,000-worth of stock," he said.

"It's sickening. Our job is to spread Christmas cheer to everyone in the UK, sending our trees far and wide, but this is a real kick in the teeth and we're asking for people who may have information to come forward and notify the police.

"This was a pretty brazen act in a well-lit yard right at the Wimbledon Park Road entrance, so we are hoping they get their comeuppance."

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Pines & Needles said the business was meant to open on Wednesday, the day after the trees were stolen, after the Government announced that shops selling real Christmas trees could open early as "essential retail."

Founded by brothers Josh and Sam Lyle back in 1995, the company hit the headlines in 2016 when it supplied a tree to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during the early months of the now-married couple's relationship.

A Met Police spokesman said: "Police were contacted at approximately 19:40 on Friday, 27 November following the theft of a number of Christmas trees from a pop-up shop in Wimbledon Park, Southfields.

"No arrests and enquiries into the circumstances remain ongoing.

"Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or tweet @MetCC and quote CAD6599/27Nov. Alternatively, call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."