A “DEPRAVED” thief stole three charity boxes full of cash intended to help children battling cancer.

The thief, who has since admitted the theft, stole the CLIC Sargent charity boxes from the Crown pub, Crown Passage, Worcester city centre, at about 4am on Thursday, May 8.

The theft was branded “depraved” by police and “extremely upsetting” by the pub’s manager, who said the boxes were chained to the bar to prevent anyone from stealing them.

As well as the boxes, which contained between £50 and £60, he also stole two bottles of Jack Daniels and a bottle of Skyy vodka.

The thief also caused damage to a side door when he broke in, but staff at the JD Wetherspoon pub were able to supply CCTV footage of the raid to police.

Pub manager Claire Heitzman said: “It is extremely upsetting and I was surprised someone would do it. It is upsetting for staff and customers as we have put a lot of effort into raising the money.

“This money is for children who have cancer and leukaemia. Any kind of theft from a charity is unacceptable.

“I wasn’t bothered about the alcohol, alcohol can be replaced, but this is people who have given their time, money and effort for a good cause.”

She said the money was due to be added to the pub’s annual fundraising target.

“We were just under our £5,000 target for the year,” she said. “We have raised a lot for this charity as CLIC Sargent is the registered charity for JD Wetherspoon.”

The raid set off alarms, but when staff arrived the thief had already gone.

The offender has pleaded guilty and spoken of his shame in police interview, but has yet to be sentenced in court for the offence.

West Mercia PC Alex Denny said: “It’s abhorrent. Theft is one of our volume crimes, but the fact that something has been taken which is directly for the benefit of youngsters or children who are suffering from the most hideous illnesses you could imagine makes it stand out as being a really depraved crime.

“He admitted the offence in full in interview. He said he was ashamed of himself and he was in drink at the time of the offence."

Liz Lowery, senior corporate account manager at CLIC Sargent, said: "Collection boxes play a vital role in helping us to raise funds for children and young people with cancer, and their families. JD Wetherspoon has raised more than £8.5 million for us since 2002 so it's always very disappointing to hear of incidents like this."