A stolen life-size guide dog charity collection box has been returned to the shop it was taken from after a man admitted stealing it.

The whereabouts of the box, which contained about £150, remained a mystery for 10 weeks after it was pinched from outside a hairdresser in Westow Street, Upper Norwood, on January 11.

But police officers found it during a search of a home in nearby Hermitage Road and arrested 31-year-old Neil Cordell.

Cordell, of Hermitage Road, appeared via video link at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court on April 2 where he pleaded guilty to theft.

He was sentenced to eight weeks imprisonment, which is suspended for six months, and fined £200.

PC Alex Woolley, from the Upper Norwood safer neighbourhoods team, which investigated the case said: “We're glad we have been able to reunite the shop and the community with the iconic charity box.

“It's a much-loved feature of the area and also supports a great cause, so a lot of people were upset when it was stolen.

"The dog has taken pride of place in the area for many years, raising hundreds, if not thousands of pounds for the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity.

“Hopefully it will be there now for many years to come."