Alton's Big Issue vendor was consoled by passing members of the public after a heartless thief stole her day's proceeds on Christmas Eve.

Online reports suggested the "poor lady was in absolute pieces" after the theft of her collection cup outside Caffe Nero in Alton High Street.

The post by Facebook user Emma Rogers added on the Alton News community page: "I know times are tough but really that is low."

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman confirmed officers were alerted at 11.25am on Saturday (December 24) to a report of a theft on Alton High Street.

They added the incident has been "reviewed and filed at the current time pending further lines of enquiry becoming available".

Facebook users were quick to express outrage at the theft, with Andrew Worth summing up the views of many with the comment: "On Christmas Eve of all days! Good grief."

"This is so unbelievably sad and my heart breaks for her," said another Facebook user Hannah Finch, adding "I really hope whoever has done this can be brought to some kind of justice and she isn't just looked over!"

Dave Foley wrote: "What a disgrace! I gave here a few pounds last week. She is a lovely lady and did not deserve that!"

"It’s despicable and beyond contempt," added Stuart Wardle. "Me and another chap gave her what we had in our wallets. She’s always so cheerful."

"Me too," said the author of the original post Emma Rogers. "Gave what I could and we shared a hug. Just hope it evens out what was lost."

"Such a low despicable act," said Sarah Austin. "Hope there is some CCTV so the police can catch the culprit! Saw her just after it happened and gave her something to help make up for her loss. Hope she’s ok."

Seeing the positives, Xavi Scott Gudrich wrote: "Great to see how many people reached out and helped her! Alton has great community spirit, you'll find idiots everywhere but great to see the response from locals! Merry Christmas everyone!"

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or submit information online here.