The hunt is on for a brazen thief who stole a beloved metre-high sardine tin costume from a Surbiton pub in an audacious raid.

The foam costume, which is among the main attractions in the upcoming Seething Festival, was stolen from under the noses of workers at the Lamb pub, in Brighton Road.

Staff believe that the thief spotted an opportunity when workers were putting Christmas decorations away in a former Chinese takeaway shop next door.

From February 2016: PICTURE GALLERY: The weird and wonderful of Seething Festival 2016

Adam Lewis, 45, who owns the Lamb Surbiton, said: “I’ve been pretty much in and out of [the shop] every day just to put away a few of the festivities and keep them next door. It’s got a front door next to the door to the pub.

“I want to think it was just some kids. We’ve got the Seething Festival coming up and the costume is a big part of that - I feel gutted.

“It took the best part of two weeks to make, the materials are pretty hard to come by. I’m hoping it can be returned.”

Organisers of the Seething Festival have launched an appeal to see the costume returned, promising that it will be “no questions asked” if the gigantic tin costume makes its way home.

The annual celebration sees dozens of residents from across the borough march through Surbiton’s streets in unusual fancy dress attire.

The surreal procession last year saw children dressed as cheese and guinea pigs led through the streets by the legendary ‘goat boy’.

Surrey Comet:

The tin costume at last year's parade

Organiser Robin Hutchinson said: “Obviously the sardine tin is on the walkabout, I just hope that they realise that it’s not a real tin and the scrap value would not be too much.

“It’s an odd one. Let’s be honest carrying a metre-high sardine tin around you would have thought somebody would have seen. It all seems a bit fishy.

“We all really do want it back – there must be limited punch lines from a sardine tin. I assume it’s probably just sitting in somebody’s house.”

Last year Seething Wells won £25,000 after taking first prize in the Britain Has Spirit awards, which celebrates the country’s best community groups.