Wallington 'elf-nappers' hunted over garden centre theft

Suspected elf thieves
Image caption The suspected elf thieves left garden centre bosses "shocked someone could stoop so low"

Three women, one in a wheelchair, have been spotted stealing an electric elf from a garden centre in south London.

The suspects stole 2ft-high Chippy from Woodcote Green Garden Centre in Wallington on 6 December.

Chippy, a pink-faced elf, used to wave at visitors to the nursery before it was taken, leaving bosses "shocked" by the behaviour.

The women were caught on CCTV unplugging Chippy before leaving after the incident.

They were accompanied by a young child.

'Empty plinth'

Phil Barnden, manager of the garden centre, said: "I was particularly shocked that someone could stoop so low. We want him back.

"The most disappointing thing is he is not there to wave at all the little children coming in.

Image caption Store bosses are concerned for Chippy's welfare

"We have now got an empty plinth where Chippy used to sit next to his mate Rusty."

Mr Barnden said it cost about £1,000 to hire the two elves.

He said collections during the Christmas festivities raise money for charities including Help the Heroes.

Mr Barnden added: "We want to try and get him back. The kids are missing him."

Police hope anyone who saw the thieves will get in touch.

One of the suspect is aged 25 to 30, about 5ft 6in tall, with long black hair and a ponytail wearing a black tracksuit.

The wheelchair-user was being pushed by a teenager in a stripy black and white T-shirt.