MEAN-hearted thieves ditched the spirit of Christmas when they struck not once, but twice at a pensioners' Christmas party.

The raiders took 50 mince pies and dozens of pigs in blankets in the theft from the Stokesley Community Care Association which was planning the gathering at the local town hall.

They also pinched bags of roast potatoes and parsnips which were to accompany the feast.

But if that wasn't bad enough, when volunteers restocked the freezer the thieves struck again taking the freshly made festive snacks.

“We couldn’t believe it, to steal from the pensioners,” said one of the volunteers who asked not to be named.

“It’s absolutely awful, these were left in the freezer which has a big sign on it saying it’s the property of the Community Care Association, so everyone knows it’s for the elderly residents.

"We were so saddened and disappointed that someone had taken this food, knowing it must have been for a Christmas party.”

The thieves even had the cheek to pick through the bags to ditch the sausages which had not been wrapped in bacon.

The Community Care Association runs the Thursday Lunch Club every week with elderly people normally paying for their meals.

But at Christmas the local Freemasons and Rotary Club pay for a special Christmas lunch for the pensioners. This year they had more than 60 people to feed and even though when they got there the freezer was nearly bare they rallied round and the 20 volunteers managed to put on the traditional feast.

“The pensioners did have a lovely lunch still. But these actions impact on the whole community and surely we are not alone in finding this whole episode despicable," added the volunteer.

"In this period of goodwill to all men there is something lacking in the hearts of some members of our community."