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He said he wanted to hire props for a Spanish film production. “He was so gentlemanly I trusted him,” said one dealer from whom Mr Lucas took a Victorian heart-shaped silver mirror valued at about £500.

Mr Lucas, who may also be operating as Mr Tucker or Mr Brandon, promised to return the goods on October 16 but, although he was seen in Antiquarius a few days after his first visit, he has yet to return any of the items, all of which were paid for with Halifax cheques. So far two of the three cheques have bounced.

A business card given by Mr Lucas to one of the dealers provided a mobile telephone number together with an address and telephone number in Surbiton, Surrey, all of which are invalid.

On the same day as he visited Antiquarius, Mr Lucas visited Bourbon Hanby, also on the Kings Road, but left emptyhanded.