A BAD sport stole a rare book from the shop window of Oxfam that was signed by Aussie artist and singer Rolf Harris.

The anthology featured signed illustrations by the former Animal Hospital presenter and was being auctioned off at the Oxfam shop in Oxford Street, High Wycombe, to raise money for the charity's East Africa Food Crisis appeal.

The book, published in 1958 and named the "London Mystery Quarterly Anthology, Number 38", is a collection of crime stories of which the one named A Short Cut to Danger is illustrated by Rolf.

The celebrity penned the artwork when he was a struggling artist in London in the 1950s but he signed it just a few months ago when store manager Mary Saunders got in touch with him.

Mrs Saunders, who had the book donated to her shop, said: "It's a great shame. I'm devastated. A lot of work went into that auction. Rolf personally signed his illustrations and on the inside of the front cover he also did a little cartoon for us. It was a little face. I was not sure of the value of the book but we were hoping to raise lots of money from it for the appeal.

"It's particularly sad that it's happened now that we have just launched our biggest appeal ever to help the African food crisis."

One of her assistants noticed the book was stolen on Wednesday morning just a couple of days before the closing day of the auction on Saturday.

Mrs Saunders said: "It must have gone missing either on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. I think the thief targeted this book for its value or they're a real Rolf fan."

Rolf had just discovered "scraperboard" when he did the illustrations.

Scraperboard is a drawing surface made from a thin layer of plaster of Paris onto which you can draw or paint in fine Indian ink and create dramatic shading effects by scraping thin lines onto the black.