A WITNEY shop is calling for its 4ft tall papier mache elephant to be returned after it was stolen on the weekend.

Staff and customers at The Pottery Place, in High Street, were shocked to discover that their brightly-coloured elephant ‘Elmer’ — which has stood outside the shop with papermache giraffe ‘Geraldine’ for the past year — was missing.

A passer-by informed workers that she had seen the paper elephant — made by staff and customers over several months — being bundled into the back of a car, which had stopped just outside of the shop at about 3pm on Sunday.

Owner Maggie Sheehan, who has run The Pottery Place for eight years, said: “A passer-by saw an old green Rover pull up outside and a man and a woman got out and put it in the back of the car and drive off. I have given the number plate to the police.

“I didn’t get the passers-by’s name, but I would really like to contact her to say thank you.”

Thames Valley Police spokesman Chris Kearney confirmed that officers were investigating the incident.

He said: “We are investigating reports we have received of the theft of an ornamental elephant.

“We would ask anyone with information or who saw this man and woman putting the elephant into the back of the car to contact us.”

Mother-of-two Ms Sheehan are planning to put up posters to try and get Elmer back.

She said: “Everybody loves the elephant and giraffe, all the children that go past cuddle or pat them.

“Elmer is very special and our giraffe, Geraldine, is very lonely without Elmer.

“This is really unusual, somebody’s desire to have this elephant must be so great. It’s a pretty big thing to hide, someone must have seen it and know where it is.”

She joked: “We have not received any ransom demands so we are assuming this is a theft rather than a kidnap.”

Anyone with any information about the theft should contact Thames Valley Police on 0845 850 5505 or 0800 555 111.