A SECOND historic letterbox has been stolen from one East Sussex village.

Police are investigating after the lamp box installed during the reign of George VI was swiped from Etchingham.

The theft overnight on August 11 came six months after thieves stole the same model from the high street about a mile away.

Villagers say they are “enraged” at the loss, amid fears the irreplaceable boxes are being taken as collectors' items.

The more than 60-year-old red box in Sheepstreet Lane was taken between 11am on Sunday August 17 and 11am the next day.

Nearby resident Mary Richardson, retired, said: “I am absolutely disgusted with the whole affair.

“I still do not believe that it has happened and could happen in a sleepy little village like this.

“They have taken the one down in the village -they have been going like hot cakes.”

Neighbour Alison Vernon, also retired, said: “We are enraged about it. It is the original one. It is a part of our town and we thought of it as our own property in a way.”

The box had still not been replaced as of this Monday, leaving residents on the lane having to walk about a mile away to the Post Office.

Mark Harrison, National Policing and Crime Advisor for English Heritage, said the postbox was an “incredibly important historic object for the village, and a functional object”.

He added: “Someone out there has taken away that function and taken away 60 years' worth of continuous cultural enjoyment.

“I do not feel that these are going for their scrap value - there is more value in their intrinsic value as an object.”

Robert Cole, spokesman for The Letter Box Study Group, an independent group documenting letter boxes across the country, said the box would be could be difficult to trace as its distinguishing number was detachable.

He added: “I think it is a great shame and it seems to me very unfair that two have gone in the same town.”

He said about 100-150 boxes were lost every year in Britain, but many of those vandalised, run over or decommissioned, with the number of thefts probably in the “dozens”.

Sussex Police said the post onto which the post box was fixed, close to Church Hill, had been pushed over.

The box bears plate number 235.

• Any witnesses or anyone with information is asked to email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call 101 quoting serial 444 of 18/08. Or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.