Essex Police bans 43 Facebook users over Poppy Appeal theft 'abuse'
Police investigating the theft of a Poppy Appeal box have scrapped a social media campaign after it led to a "large number" of abusive comments.
Essex Police appealed for the public's help in catching those who took the box in Chelmsford last Wednesday.
However, when the force put its appeal on social media it triggered a stream of offensive comments.
The force says it has since banned 43 Facebook users from commenting on its page.
It is understood some of the comments were racist and Islamophobic.
A police spokesman said: "We have taken the decision to remove an appeal from our Facebook and Twitter pages following a large number of abusive, inappropriate and offensive comments made by social media users."
It said some of the comments that were left "could cause alarm and distress to our visitors".
Police are continuing to appeal for information about two women wanted in connection with the theft that happened at Tesco Express, in Purbeck Court, at about 16:00 GMT.