A charity shop is appealing for the return of a refurbished electric guitar - stolen from a window display yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon.

The Fender Stratocaster-type guitar was stolen from the Oxfam shop in Okehampton, between 12noon and 12.30pm, while the shop was open.

A man was seen running from the shop with a guitar in his hands, to then jump in a waiting white van and drive off.

It is thought a group of people near the window inside the shop are thought to have been involved.

The guitar was painstakingly rebuilt, with many new parts, by Bernard Shelley, the husband of the shop manager Jasmin, in order to sell and raise money for the charity.

Jasmin said: 'This is upsetting for all our volunteers because it worries them that they're being targeted like this by what looks like organised criminals who seemed to have planned the theft.

'But it is doubly upsetting because not only are we a charity raising money for people in need, but my husband had spent a lot of time and quite a bit of money refurbishing the guitar to donate to Oxfam. It is a unique item and hard to put a value on.'

'We feel vulnerable because we don't know what might happen if we challenge them and try to stop them.'

Jasmin Shelley -  stolen Oxfam
Jasmin Shelley, Okehampton Oxfam manager. (Tindle)

She said the renowned make of instrument had only been in the shop window a couple of hours on display when staff noticed it had gone and found the guitar stand moved and hidden under a clothes unit. Jasmin then went outside and asked people on the pavement outside who told her they had seen a man running out with the guitar and escaping in a white van.

Jasmin added: 'It's difficult to guard against shoplifting in charity shops because we don't have the funds to install security like CCTV or have guards. It's difficult to organise for enough volunteers, let alone pay for security measures. This is another reason why we feel vulnerable to crime and easy prey for the thieves.'

The guitar body has unusual faint swirl etchings on a black background and a maple wood neck.

The crime has been reported to police. Anyone who has any information on the theft and can help recover the guitar is asked to call police on the non-emergency free phone number 101 and report to the Okehampton police office.