Heartless thieves broke into a soldier’s car while he attended the funeral of a veteran.

Sergeant Ross Murphy made the decision to show his support for the unnamed veteran, who did not have much family, at his military funeral which was held at Distington Crematorium.

But following the service, he was shocked and disgusted to find the window of his car smashed while it was parked outside and his mobile phone stolen.

He has decided to speak out today to help police in their investigation to snare the thief.

Sgt Murphy, who served with the Duke of Lancaster Regiment for 12 years and is based at Workington Army Reserve Centre, told the News & Star: “When I realised what had happened, I didn’t know where to put myself - I was shocked. It’s one of those places where you never expect this to happen.

“I was absolutely disgusted, as somebody was preying on people at a funeral.

“I could have been there as a widow, burying my husband.”

Sgt Murphy, who lives at Salterbeck in Workington, said the response he has received from the public has been “incredible”.

“It was a military funeral. I didn’t even know the guy and I was trying to do a good deed and this is how I’ve been repaid.”

The thief, who struck on June 18, used Sgt Murphy’s phone, which was connected to his bank cards, to buy three £10 scratchcards at McColl’s in Distington. He then bought three more at Morrison’s in Whitehaven.

The 29-year-old, who is married and has two children, also works at Workington TA as a recruiter. He does outreach work in towns and takes children on courses.

Police have released a CCTV image of a man they would like to speak with in connection to the crime.

Contact police on 101, email 101@cumbria.police.uk, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.