"Please return our Santa" was the heartfelt plea from one Croydon company after thieves stole part of their Christmas display.

The brazen thieves climbed on to the 10ft high porch and removed the centrepiece of the display a 10ft high inflatable Father Christmas and Frosty the snowman from outside property developer Greenacre Homes offices.

Chief buyer Mark Tanner and a colleague spent more than two hours last Friday creating the festive display outside the firm's offices in Shirley Road.

But when he arrived for work on Monday morning, Mark couldn't believe his eyes.

He was amazed to discover that the inflatable models, worth around £100, had been stolen over the weekend.

Mark believes the theft was not just drunken high jinks, but a calculated raid, as the inflatable models had been screwed down.

And he thinks somebody must have seen the figures being carried away from the scene on the route between Shirley and Addiscombe.

He said: "I'm gutted, not for me but for the children. This is something we do every year for the children to see as they walk past on their way to school.

"We get letters from our neighbours saying how nice it is to see the lights. It's quite a big thing."

The thieves removed the screws and the wood and sand used to keep the figures weighted down.

And they also attempted to take the lights that formed part of the display, but gave up after finding they were tightly secured.

A police spokesman said there was no particular trend of Christmas decorations being stolen particularly 10ft high figures.

But she added: "It is quite unusual but that is sometimes a challenge for a thief. They will rise to the challenge."

Mark appealed to whoever took the Christmas figures to return them by leaving them at the front of the office, no questions asked.

If you have any information phone Mark on 020 8655 4134.