CCTV footage of the bizarre moment a hooded man put a ‘silent soldier’ war tribute over his shoulder before cycling off with it with it in the middle of the night has been released.

The ‘Tommy’ had been standing outside the Ives and Shand funeral business in Ashley Road, Parkstone since last year.

But in the early hours of Friday, November 1, it was taken by a thief in a hoodie who swiped it before pedalling away on a bicycle at around 3.50am.

Luckily, a resident living nearby – who serves in the military – found the five-foot tall silhouette and took it for safekeeping.

He wrote to Ives & Shand: “I’m happy to say that I found the silent soldier laying face-down on the pavement down my road."

CCTV from the business, which is part of Dorset’s Douch Family Funeral Directors, shows the brazen thief making off with the soldier over his shoulder.

He then walks into Ashley Road where he mounts his bicycle and pedals off, clutching the Tommy.

Marcella McDonagh, funeral director at the branch, said: “We bought the soldier last year to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

“People very much liked the fact we were doing our bit to remember those lost, and we had only just brought him out again for this year’s remembrance.

“To see him stolen was awful – especially considering that we are coming up to Remembrance Day.

“When we viewed the CCTV we saw exactly what had happened – the man had a good look at it before going away then returning and making off with it across the road.

“He then got on a bicycle and pedalled off. It was such an unusual sight.

"People were wonderful and shared details of the theft everywhere and we had a huge response.

"Luckily someone had rescued our Tommy and we are delighted to have him back. We’ll be keeping him indoors from now on. And we like to thank the person who rescued our Tommy."

The man pictured in the footage was wearing a coat and rucksack. Staff at the business say he appears to be aged in his 30s. As he prepared to take the soldier, he can be seen putting gloves on.