A COPELAND man has condemned the thief who made off with the paltry amount of £3 from an honesty box outside his home.

The ice-cream tub had been in place to allow people to purchase the Williams family's homemade preserves fuss-free.

Cans of pop and eggs from hens owned by the family, who live near Millom, are also available from a small cabinet adorned with the message 'with love from Bluebell Cottage'.

But, over the weekend, a thief came along and took advantage of their trust.

Chris Williams said two cans of pop had gone - either purchased by passersby or stolen by the thief - when he discovered the box was missing. £1 is always present inside the box to provide change, so the thief made off with a maximum amount of £3.

"It makes it more irking that someone's gone with such a piddly amount of money," said Mr Williams, 32, who works at BAE.

"The ice-cream box wasn't secured.

"Maybe it's our fault for not securing it, but it's never been a problem.

"I think [my wife] Helen is more upset and angry than I am."

He said he 'had a good hunt around' to check the box had not blown away - although it is has never done so in the past.

The family posted an appeal to the 'With Love From Bluebell Cottage' Facebook page over the weekend asking the thief to do the right thing and return the box but, as yet, this has been to no avail.

They said in the post that they had been left 'really disheartened' and had been 'wondering whether all of the effort we put in is worth continuing'.

However, Mr Williams said the community had been 'very supportive'.

"They have encouraged us to carry on," he said.

"We have had messages from some of our customers who buy our eggs regularly to say 'carry on, don't let it beat you'."

Speaking this morning, he said a proper money box was due to arrive later in the day and would be secured to the cabinet.