A WOODEN sign in the shape of an elephant has been stolen from a village in Oxfordshire.

The sign was chained up outside a house in Duns Tew near Banbury and was last seen on Friday, June 7.

On Saturday morning the sign was gone.

This unlikely theft has not only raised concerns about safety in the village, but also affected a local charitable cause.

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Clare Burgess, who helps organise the Church Fete this Sunday, said: "The elephant was advertising the bric-a-brac stall, so that villagers would know where to bring their unwanted household items.

"The White Elephant Stall is very popular at the fete and a big fundraiser."

The sign was made by Helen Hammond, who also lives in the village, and has been used for the last five years.

There is no way of saying who took it and for what purpose.

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Mrs Burgess added: "As you might expect, he is very heavy and not easy to pick up, so we can only assume that two people took him."

She also revealed the village had suffered similar thefts before: "When we held a scarecrow competition in aid of the fete, scarecrows were stolen two years running.”

Villagers have different suspicions, varying from ‘a drunk’s prank, which turned out not to be funny at all’ to ‘if we receive a ransom demand, I’d advise not paying.’.

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Mrs Burgess hopes that the white elephant sign might be spotted ‘at another fete, maybe dumped somewhere, or in someone’s garden’ and will be eventually returned to Duns Tew.

She added: "He may be a bit of fun, but we are very sad someone stole him. We need to have him home."