A four-year-old girl was left devastated when a thief snatched her teddy bear.

Tilly Donaghey had pleaded in the weeks leading up to her birthday for a “pink princess bear”. When she was given £40 on the big day she begged her mum Correen to take her on a shopping trip.

On Tuesday, the family visited the Build-a-Bear store in Highcross, Leicester, and the youngster spent her money on her perfect teddy – complete with pink ballet shoes – which she named Princess Tilly.

However, just moments after the excited child and her mum had left Highcross, an opportunist thief grabbed the bear.

“I’d stopped to look in a shop window and Tilly had put the bear in the pushchair,” said Correen, 25, from Braunstone Frith, Leicester.

“The next thing I knew, she was looking round for it and saying she couldn’t find it. I didn’t see anyone take it. They must have done it really quickly because one minute it was there and the next it was gone.”

After searching for the teddy without success, Correen took her distraught daughter home and called the police.

“She was devastated,” said Correen.

“She kept saying ‘a naughty man has taken my bear’ and she was crying all night. I don’t know how anyone could steal a teddy from a four-year-old girl – some people must have no morals at all.”

Tilly said: “I was sad when the naughty man took it. It made me cry.”

Police are appealing for anyone with information about the theft, which happened in Highcross Street, to come forward.

Friend Jody Branston, 49, from Birstall, heard about the theft and contacted the shop on Tilly’s behalf to ask if it could help.

“I just thought how can someone do something so horrible to a little girl?” she said.

“They nicked a pink teddy bear right off the buggy and they knew exactly what they were doing. It’s not like it could have belonged to anyone other than a small child. No child should be that upset, so I called the store and asked if staff could do anything and they said ‘yes’ straight away.”

Staff at the shop presented Tilly with a new, identical bear. Supervisor Oliver Ellison remembered serving Tilly and her mum on Tuesday.

He said: “You could tell she loved it. I was gutted for her when I found out it had been taken. How can someone do that to a little girl?”

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